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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

finishing up 2019

 here is my new life coach.
we are going to slay 2020 together.
but before we go there,
let's check in on 2019.

the word that chose me was 

here are some fun words that reminded me
 to stay focused...

make time for things that matter to you.

things get DONE much faster
when you DO THEM.

being happy is productive.
(yes, especially in these challenging times)

don't confuse being busy with being productive.
( sit with that one for a bit...)

it's not about having time,
it's about making time.
if it matters, you 
will make time.
-lewis howes

someday is made up of a thousand tiny nows.
-curly girl design

never mind tomorrow-
today is the day.

done is better than perfect.
(holy smokes, this one is key)

there are a few more things to get done by year's end,
but having this word *productive* front and center did seem to
move me along when i became
distracted from my goals.

did you chose a word for 2019?
how did it work out for you?
thinking about a new one for 2020?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

some lovely links to cheer and inspire you

This morning, Wilma was sprawled out on a windowsill, Corazón was dozing in a sunny chair and Batman and I were tuned in to the live broadcast of Lessons and Carols, from King's College in England. Even simple folks like us enjoy a bit of sacred music at this time of year.

Earlier in the morning I listened to another holiday favorite, via Vermont Public Radio. If you love a good story about community, this one is for you.  Willem Lange's Favor Johnson.

Have you seen this photo? A group of students at Tulane's Medical School posed in front of former slave quarters. Powerful. And hopeful.

We watched a quirky and delightful movie recently, and thought some of you might enjoy it too. It got mixed critical reviews, but some of us take that with a grain of salt, am I right?  This Beautiful Fantastic can be found via several streaming options.

This time of year can be so complicated for some of us...if we have our eyes wide open we may be conflicted by the cheer of the season and the reality of the world we live in. I'm right there beside you, friend...looking for the Light, Love and Hope that is out there if we but see it, work for it and share it with others.


Saturday, December 21, 2019

solstice beauty

 Yesterday morning, on my way down the hill to the gym at dawn, I watched the most amazing "sundog". I had never seen one before and I've got to say, it felt almost apocalyptic! To read about how it forms, read this. Spotting it on the day before the solstice had me wondering if I had fallen back into ancient times.

Right on cue, my Christmas cactus has started to bloom. She has struggled a bit lately due to Cora's fascination with her droopy arms. But still she persists. You can read about her story here.
And if you have been poking around sewandsowlife for a while, you know how much I love to bring paper white narcissus bulbs into our living spaces in the winter.
These lovelies are perched on the kitchen windowsill. Not everyone appreciates their scent, but I'm one who loves to come down in the morning to fill the tea kettle and find a puddle of their smell waiting for me.
May this post remind you that in the midst of this time of year, there is calm to be found, peace to sink into and pleasure to be had in the simplest things. I invite you to set your boundaries with gentleness, but respect them. Take a break from the news. Get outside and walk, even if you have to bundle up to do it! Make a point to go see the stars at night. Sit with a friend who may have suffered a loss this year. Don't deny yourself some treats, but nourish yourself with whole foods most of the time. Listen to magical music, maybe sing a bit too. 

Embrace the Light, friends.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

remembering "e"

Erin Elizabeth Potts

"e" reminds me 
in so many ways,
that life is not to be taken for granted,
that each morning that we wake up is a blessing,
and that love is what it's all about.

It's hard to believe it was ten years ago today
that Erin left this world.

We will never forget you Erin.


read more here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

sinking into the season

He said, "The universe is unfolding,
the center still is holding.
There's enough if we just share it,
now ya'll, don't forget to pass the basket
Blessed are the good hearted,
the poets and the dreamers
And all us crazy holy hungry ones
who still believe in something better."

Carrie Newcomer, from "Where you been" on The Geography of Light.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

tuscan tuesday::the women who caught my eye

 Madonna with Child
by Filippo Lippi
 Madonna and Child and Two Angels
by Filippo Lippi
 Pallas and the Centaur
by Alessandro Filipepi, detto BOTTICELLI
(the goddess of wisdom)
 From "Spring"
 Also from "Spring"
Also by Botticelli
"While mystery continues to shroud the composition's overall
significance, the painting is unquestionably a celebration
of love, peace and prosperity. There are 138 different
species of plant that have been identified, each of which Botticelli has
meticulously reproduced, possibly using an herbal."
Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga
by Raffaello Sazio

I'm still dreaming of Italy some nights, 
waking up and remembering all the magical
 bits and pieces of that adventure. 
The colors and softness of some of this work
feels like a treasure trove of inspiration.
I hope to make time this winter to sew a few bits
of cloth as a remembrance of those days.

I've been to Detroit and back, Thanksgiving has come and gone and now the warp speed of December is upon us. Batman has been crafting wreaths from our balsams, lists are being made and my Bernina has been getting a workout.

But I am trying to honor the quiet, reflective aspects of December as well. Cultivating coziness and appreciation of this place, transformed by the blanket of snow that has come to stay. Twinkle lights will be pulled out of boxes, the red and green linens will come out to play in the kitchen and the snowshoes are stashed by the backdoor. The birds are at the feeders, animal tracks traverse the frosty meadow and Orion is back on the horizon. The hoop house is dormant, waiting to sprout some greens in the very early spring, paper whites bloom in the dining room and the Meyer lemon is covered in blossoms. Hope. It is so dang persistent.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

gift making for maggie's second birthday

 smock stitched with a wiksten pattern,
(the pattern has so many sizes...i'll be able to use it for years to come)
matching baby doll outfit stitched with mccall's pattern #M4338.
the fabric has gretta's favorite red clovers (vermont's state flower),
maggie's favorite daisies
and lovely forget-me-nots and ferns and golden rod.
...a little vermont meadow to wear in brooklyn.
a birchy treasure bag, to take to the park for acorns, twigs and pebbles.
telling the story of cora and wilma.
gosh, i struggled mightily when i first sat down at the computer,
the format was not terribly intuitive...
but when i got things figured out, i had a blast
putting it together.

we went to brooklyn this past weekend to spend time with our
now two year old magpie.
she is full of spunk and sentences and independence.
we ate thai food, and bagels (of course),
played at the park (i even slid down the slide),
read so many books and played with blocks.
marmie, maggie and pizza pizza,
walking through a posh neighborhood to get to the farmers market
where we found brussels sprouts on the stem!
here are gretta and maggie,
curled up and close.
you may recognize one of those quilts...

making homemade gifts for this dear wee one helps me feel
better connected to our city baby.
she may be far away, but now she has a few more things that connect our hearts,
crafted with love and care.

Friday, November 15, 2019

november blues

  • A friend recently turned 75 and she did not want gifts at her lunch party. So I made her a gifty card. I used homegrown, hand dyed indigo, some quilt batting and some bits of salvaged birch to create a wintery scene. I had stitched up something similar years ago (10, in fact!) and revisited it earlier this week. She is an artist and has some curiosity about embroidery and I look forward to sitting with her in her studio in the next few weeks, introducing her to some basic stitches. I must confess, I have been meaning to play around with a hoop and floss, so this is just perfect timing.
  • We brought the first pot of narcissus up from the root cellar, a bit on the early side of the holiday season. Hope in a bulb. Waiting to bloom. Fending off the chill.
  • Winter came on cold and determined this week. On Wednesday it was 4 degrees F when we woke up, and the last bit of the beaver moon was high in the sky. I caught this photo out our bedroom window so it's a bit grainy...but the blue is true.
I can't wait to show you the fun little projects I put together for Maggie. It is such a joy to stitch tiny things. The cats and I spend many afternoons down in my sewing studio, listening to either the news or podcasts or music. Or sometimes we just soak in the sound of the wind outside. After they have savaged the tissue pattern pieces, made off with my leather thimble or managed to mess up the thread on my Bernina, they find their favorite spots to settle down and nap. I watch the garden beds fill with drifting snow and remember that for every time there is a season. The sun sets over the Greens and then we know it's time to think about supper. 

What are you cooking for supper, friends?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

quiet days

Quiet, muted days have shared time with wild winds and a power outage. Plenty of time to hunker in and remember loved ones who have passed along through the veil of time. How did they navigate the world? How did they inspire others? What legacies have they left behind? 

I do so love to set time aside to consider these queries.

There's candlelight at supper now, and the time change has confused the cats about mealtimes.  According to Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department it's safe to put up bird feeders, as November 1st is when most bears have headed to their dens. 

A friend sent along a link to a Youtube treat. It's a 5 minute gem. Click here to watch it.

And, there's been some secret sewing going on. Maggie will be 2 tomorrow!

Oh, and "significant snow" is in the forecast...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

tuscan tuesday::a little bit haunted

 In Adoration of the Magi, Botticelli is said to have created an image 
of himself in the lower right hand corner of the painting.
Kinda creepy.
c. 1475.
 At the Uffizi.
The monk Maurus, warned by St. Benedict, saves
his fellow monk Placidus from drowning
by walking on water.
by Bartolomeo di Giovanni. 
c. 1485-90.
c. 1495.
The wife of Brutus, one of the conspirators involved
in the murder of Julius Caesar.
After her husband's suicide, she too killed herself... swallowing burning coals.
(Detail, lower right hand corner of the painting).
By Fra' Bartolomeo.
 In Montepulciano, in the church of Sant'Agostino.
A woman bereft.
 Saint Anthony di Padua, finder of lost things.
Captivated by the energy I felt at his feet,
his statue was littered with photos of missing people.
His sleeves were filled with notes left by pilgrims.
This was one of the most moving experiences I had in Tuscany.
I am not a religious person, but rather spiritual.
There was something going on here I have yet to wrap my head around.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

some distractions

the girls

Oh silly me, I came out from under my rock and peeked at the news today. Now I am scrambling to find distractions. Fun distractions. Lovely distractions. Anything to give me some relief from the fatigue.

Thought you might appreciate some links.

Do you know the enchanting work of Salley Mavor of Wee Folk Studio? Check out her needlework here. Recently, Salley's work has taken a very interesting twist and turn. You can read about her short film and watch it by clicking here.

And here is some gorgeous beadwork by Margaret Nazon, who stitches images of the cosmos that are magical indeed. Be sure to follow the links in the story to other lovely things. (Years ago I heard US Poet Laureate Tracy K Smith read at a gallery not far from here).

We've had a rainy spell here, and I took advantage of the day and cleaned and tidied up my sewing studio. Priorities have been set, supplies have been organized. I'm ready to rumble.

Bring it on, Monday.


Friday, October 25, 2019

triptych #46

  • leaden skies
  • quiet pebbles
  • still life with plants
Maybe you are feeling it too. A slowing down, a hunkering in, a need for quiet. Here in Vermont nearly all the leaves have been blown off the trees by recent, wild winds. But the oaks hang on, the lilacs are finally turning brown, the tamaracks are blazing gold.

It's chilly and damp today, and grey. A good day for tea with a friend, a good day for warm slippers and a wee fire in the stove.

This is the time of year...with the approaching days of Samhain, Halloween, Day of the Dead, All Soul's Day, that I feel most in need of time for reflection.

I've been thinking of ways to honor this urge to pull within.

Usually a place of connection and inspiration, lately I found myself checking my Instagram account more often and "following" more accounts and then actually feeling a bit burdened by it all. So I removed it from my phone. I'm just taking a break. And I feel better already.

And, oh, the news...I've put the brakes on that too! I no longer listen to the news on the way down the hill to the gym or errands. Instead I soak up the treat of driving on a dirt road in rural Vermont. Watching the light change as I go through a tunnel of trees, or drive across the open ridge line, it's a much more inspiring way to start the day.

There's more time spent in the kitchen, too, cooking with local squash, root veggies from the garden, local sausage from neighbors over the ridge. Curries and stews and soups, paired with very special slivers of Vermont cheeses are finding their way into our menus. The cider from last week's neighborhood pressing is nearly gone. We're snipping potted rosemary, brought in from the herb bed outdoors. It all just feels so dang cozy.

This month's book group selection is The Book of Joy,Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. The book documents an extended conversation between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, both Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. It's wonderful. I'm guessing that you, dear readers, might like it too.

This weekend, I'll be working on a secret sewing project (Miss Maggie is nearly 2!!!), casting on a shawl with some local Vermont yarn, shopping at the Norwich Farmer's's the last outdoor market of the year, and doing a bit more yard work with Batman. And I dream of staying in bed on Sunday morning for a bit, with a mug of tea and a idea of heaven.

Wishing you moments of quiet reflection, too....