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

Monday, January 28, 2019

Ilovermont sewandsowlife GIVEAWAY

  • pure maple candy made by Brown Family Farm
  • olive and oatmeal sensitive skin soap made by Wild Hill Soap and Herbals of Vermont
  • a Valentine's beeswax candle made by Honeyknoll Farm
  • orange lip balm, made by Vermont Bee Balm
  • Vermont's Ceres on a Stick (she sits atop the golden dome of the VT State House!) made by Nutty Steph's 

Here's a little collection of some of my favorite treats, made in Vermont. I offer these goodies as a giveaway in my month long celebration of 10 years here at sewandsowlife. (This giveaway is open to domestic addresses only, due to the food content).

Please leave a message, or send me an e-mail if you would like a chance at finding these morsels in your mailbox. Be sure to tell me what you would include in a collection of goodies from your neck of the woods. 

This giveaway is open through Saturday at noon, I'll post the winner soon after that.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Two cats in front of a fire,
sunshine before more snow,
multi grain pancakes on the griddle
and a mug of steaming tea.

I hesitate to even mention this,
but today is 
on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

It reminds me that it's still important to speak up and challenge
hate speech, misogyny and bold aggression.

In fact it's even more important these days.

It's a tricky balance...
stepping away from the real world for personal sanctuary and sanity
stepping into the world to do what we feel called to do
in the service of our human family.

I am here for you, friends,
we can do this good work together.


Friday, January 25, 2019

tea, stacking pebbles and the goddess of the deep breath

Oh good golly, friends...

Life here has gotten entangled yet again in things that are beyond our control, so I am popping in for just a quick hello and make good on my promise to share a few things that help keep me sane/balanced. Not the carefully constructed post I had envisioned...bit I am "showing up" today anyhow.

Five simple things to try when you are feeling tightly wound...
  1. Brew a pot of tea, but take time to make a ritual of it. Warm your pot before you brew the tea. Give the tea a good inhale with your nose before you spoon it into the pot. Notice the water's steam as you pour it over the tea. Cover it all with a cozy if you have one. When you pour the tea into your mug, be sure to wrap your hands around the curved comfort of the mug. Sip and enjoy. For an extra special treat, brew some jasmine pearls in a glass mug and watch the pods gracefully unfurl in the hot water.
  2. If you don't have time to do a whole yoga session, try some restorative poses with a yoga bolster (I just priced them out, "make vs purchase", and decided to buy one. It's aqua. :-). I  discovered this quick video which is quite helpful. If you are not able to get down onto the floor to use a bolster, try sitting in a chair, and simply stretch your arms over your head and take some very deep inhales and exhales. Twist gently at your waist and breathe some more. Taking whatever time you have to relax and meditate, even for a little bit, can shift your attitude.
  3. I often keep a little wooden Buddha or smooth pebble in my jeans pocket. If I am waiting in line somewhere and getting twitchy it reminds me to catch up with one of my best friends. I call her the goddess of the deep breath. I wrote about her here. 
  4. Read poetry. It's magic.
  5. I posted about stacking pebbles ten years ago! Check it out here.
I've been doodling a bit and thinking about how much I love mandalas. I have some ideas about daily hand stitching on a mandala, without an outcome in mind. Just see where the fabrics, threads and colors take me. Letting go. Relaxing.

How about you?

What are some of your simplest "go to" tactics for coping with the days that you find most challenging?


Thursday, January 24, 2019

GIVEAWAY winner and snow pics

 first things first.
there were five comments and one e-mail
expressing an interest in the giveaway.

i wrote your names on slips of paper,
tossed them in the air
and wilma selected
 vicki of cricketandfrog.

vicki, i've got your address and 
will pop it in the mail tomorrow.
so glad it's headed to australia!

i'm organizing another giveaway and will post it this weekend,
so please, friends, try again!

(your comments were so very thoughtful. 
you, dearest readers, are just lovely people).
 the snow fell for days and days.
we did not lose power!
 there will be no picnicking any time soon.
 the snow was too fine and powdery for snowshoeing,
so i did some high stepping hiking instead.

 (our annual snowshoeing weekend with friends and family 
driving up from the boston area was cancelled, due to the forecast). 
these two spent much of the time in front of the stove,
curled up together.
corazón and wilma.

are you feeling the weight and din and weariness
of the news cycle?

come on back tomorrow.
i'll share some of the things that are
helping to keep me sane these days. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

sewandsowlife is 10 years old...GIVEAWAY

Can it really be 10 years since I sat down and pulled these words from the ether...

Life can sometimes be a wrestling match between love and fear. We can CHOOSE which to embrace. Every day. On my "to do" list? Breathe, hope, notice, invite, love, create, wonder, celebrate.

I've never been sure if I write here for myself or for the occasional reader who wanders in. In any case, I thank you, dear readers, for coming by, leaving lovely comments and sending thoughtful e-mails. You all do make the world a bit brighter and more hopeful with your presence here.

For the next month or so, I'll be hosting occasional giveaways, just to share a bit of sewandsowlife cheer. Today, I'm offering this "treasure bag"*. I'm happy to ship this one internationally, so don't be shy. Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail if you would like a chance at having this bag land at your home. Please just let me know of one thing you would like to read more of here at sewandsowlife as we move into the second decade(!) together. Sewing? Gardening? Dyeing? Musings? Wilma and Corazón? Poetry? Something else? Thank you so much for making the time to share your thoughts with me.

The snow has just begun here at our  "a bit of earth" and as you have probably heard, we are in for quite the snowfall. I really hope we don't lose our power, but just in case, I'll wait until Thursday, January 24th to pick a winner. 

* the treasure bag is stitched with a pattern by projectsbyjane and you can find it here. I added the flying geese panel, so you can see how easy it is to customize the bag to your own whims.

You are, each of you, shining lights in the world. Thank you for being you.

Friday, January 18, 2019

the light that is you

Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break.
And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go.
Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. 
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.
-L. R. Knost

(via my friend Jane Davila)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

sunset, mary and moose

After doing some errands down in town the other day,  I pulled into our driveway and noticed that the light of the sunset had been caught in the windows of our dark house. It took my breath away.  

How many times in my 62 years have I been captured and renewed by the beauty of the moment? 

So many times that I have finally come to recognize it as one of the wellsprings of my spiritual life.


Being in the moment.

I love the simplicity of it. 

No special building required. No sacred texts. No anointed person up front. 

Just a simple awareness of  and appreciation for what is right in front of us.

I often feel supported in my spiritual life by poets. Today I actually got a bit weepy when I heard that one of my very favorites has passed away, beyond this mortal life. I feel like a Light has gone out, the energy in my circle of support has shifted. I am bereft. We have her words in the many volumes of poetry she has written, but now she is gone. Mary Oliver, you were loved by so many in this world.

P.S. As I was writing this post a most amazing thing happened and I want to share it with you here. My computer desk is perched near a window at the top of our house, with a beautiful 180 degree view of the Braintree Range of the Green Mountains. As I sat typing, a movement in the yard caught my eye. I looked out and watched in wonder as a male and female moose trotted along our property line. I hopped up, threw on my boots and jacket and went out to find their tracks.
The pair had come down out of the woods above us, through our neighbor's meadow, across the road, across our driveway and down through our side yard, through our meadow and down into our lower neighbor's woods.

What an extraordinary thing to see!

Maybe it was a tribute to Mary.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

VTMQG Sew-In and Anne's Handmade Joy Exchange

After our quilt guild meeting on Sunday morning, a bunch of us stayed on into the afternoon to finish piecing and prepping our quilt for the 2019 QuiltCon Community Quilt. (Actually the national guild uses the word "charity" quilt, we prefer the word "community"). To see the rules and guidelines for the challenge, look here.
Here's Becky, working on the quilt top. (Becky was a Peace Corps volunteer back in the day). Many of us took packets of fabric home with us in the fall and paper pieced various triangles. These were later cut up and sewn back together in random sections.
Rachael is working on the backing here. She has been our Treasurer ever since we got started back in 2014. She is a gem.
Here's the pieced binding being ironed. Check out that sneaky straight pin, holding the fold as the iron passes over it. #clevertip
This is the backing, in process. 

This sew-in was all about community. Intergenerational. So much banter. Such funny stories. So many quilting tips. Many hands make light work...and full hearts.
Have you read about Anne's Handmade Joy Exchange? Anne is hosting her 5th Exchange. I have participated in four of them and they are such a welcome splash of joy! I hope you'll consider joining in the fun. You can read all the details here. If you would like to join in, let Anne know ASAP. She'll be pairing folks up very soon, and letting people know about their partners on Friday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

tula tuesday::week 41

 block number 84
from tula pink's 
city sampler,
100 modern quilt blocks.

It's a very grey day here,
sorry about the (above) photo quality.
(i posted this photo earlier, but wanted to
illustrate the inspiration for this block)

I'm pretty psyched about this block.
The blue and white calico are cut 
from a threadbare bed sheet. 
The yellow linen was dyed with 
some of my homegrown tansy.

In the midst of quite the winter here in Vermont,
I still have one Meyer lemon left in the fridge.

And my windowsill tree is in full bud again!

I've got a backlog of posts to catch you up on.
Check back tomorrow to read about
our VTMQG sew-in, held on Sunday.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

this and that

Dear readers, sometimes life just does take us so far afield from where we have it all planned out in our calendars. I've been away from here for nearly a week. *Sigh*.

We've had snow for days up here on the ridge. Yesterday morning I was tidying up after breakfast and snapped this picture of the view over our kitchen sink. It reminded me of a very lovely piece in a very lovely book, Being Home, a book of meditations by Gunilla Norris. Doing the dishes is one of my favorites. Norris has authored many small books on meditation, complete with simple photos to accompany each piece. Perhaps your local library can find you a copy or two.
My Bernina is back from the spa and we've spent some good time together, working on being productive. Yes, the view does sometimes distract us from our work, but that's OK.
I've caught up on all the block of the month squares that are available so far. I do like things better now that I've added the aqua and more turquoise. Can't wait for our VTMQG meeting this Sunday when we'll all share our blocks. I love seeing how each person interprets the blocks differently. We're also staying on for a sew-in, to finish up our community quilt. I'll take pics!
The sun is setting later each day. Doesn't it feel hopeful? This was the view out to the west late this afternoon. Snow and sun and clouds and the mountains, all roiled up together, framed by the twinkle lights strung before the solstice. 

Have you been keeping up with the Kooser poems? Each day I am reminded of why I love this man's poetry. Each day a gem. Each day an exquisite choice of words. 

Today I am celebrating! My right knee was replaced in December, 2006 and my left was replaced January 10, 2007, 12 years ago today. We sure have had a lot of fun together, and I'm looking forward to plenty more ahead. Batman may have superpowers, but I am bionic in my own right! :-)
Here's a sneak peek at a little something I'm cooking up for next week. There's a special milestone on the calendar and I want to mark it with a giveaway...

Friday, January 4, 2019

green mountain glove

A week before Christmas, Batman and I went down the hill to visit Green Mountain Glove, a company that was founded in 1920, nearly a hundred years ago. Sam Hooper, the young man who recently purchased the company from the original family, was gracious enough to give us a tour of the building. 

Dear readers, I wish there was a scratch and sniff option for blogging. When we walked into the factory, I smelled the warm layers of years of production. It was a nostalgic scent. The well worn wooden floors and steps had a gorgeous patina that glowed in the morning sunlight. The place seems frozen in time, (except for a few of the brand new industrial machines Sam has brought in to increase the efficiency of the sewers.) Some of the glove patterns were drawn on the backs of vintage cereal boxes. Did you spot the thread holders in the second to last picture...made from the cut off bottoms of milk cartons? #yankeethrift

Sam has been busy upgrading the energy efficiency of the old building, which sits along the train tracks on the outskirts of town. There's not much that makes me happier than seeing young folks investing in their communities and bringing new energy to old crafts. These gloves, made here in Vermont, are coveted by workers on Boston's MBTA, and electrical linemen and farmers all over the country. Specialty gloves are made for different tasks and can be custom made from the tracing of one's hand.

Batman and I each got a pair from Santa this year and I'm pretty sure they will outlive us! 

To read more about Sam and his venture, look here.

“My grandfather wore these gloves. My mother and father wear these gloves. When I put them on, I know I am part of something special.”

Thursday, January 3, 2019

"shenzhen" square

 My beloved Bernina is waiting for me to pick her up after another
 spa treatment. She'll also have a brand new walking foot from the spa. 
She had her old one for 30+ years
and it was sadly beyond repair. We tried.

So the first few blocks of my "summer sampler" have been stitched
 with a stand-in machine, whose tension is a bit wonky.
I'm really not the most accurate piecer, which is boldly evident here.
I embrace the wabi and move on.

This is the "Shenzhen" block.
I'm not sure I love my color choices on this project,
and so I will sew more of 
the turquoise and aqua into the next few blocks
to see if that helps...
Those colors run in the veins of my Mumsie and the women
 who came before her and in the veins of her granddaughters too.

Raise your hand if you love aqua and turquoise, too!

At noon today I sat in silence for a bit and 
let the hope of a new Congress wash over me.
Do you feel it too?

Come back tomorrow for a fun field trip
to a very cool place right here in our neck of the woods.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

"summer sampler" block of the month

 I do so love the way inspiration often comes from synchronicity.

My cousin Kristen gifted me this lovely book for Christmas,

In December, I decided to jump on the Block of the Month bandwagon,
joining other members of the Vermont Modern Quilt Guild.
"Summer Sampler" by Fresh Lemon Quilts is underway!
You can read more about it here.

This lovely bird illustration caught my eye and I decided
to use the colors for my blocks.
The blocks become available on the first Monday of each month,
but our guild started the project in October 2018,
so I have some catching up to do.

In honor of being PRODUCTIVE,
I made time this afternoon to sew up the first block.
And I pledge to stitch the second block tomorrow. 

Thanks for sharing your words for the year...
I look forward to hearing about your progress!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019


There's so much to say about this simple word
that's been nipping at my heels,
tapping me on my shoulder and
taunting me lately.

I'm looking forward to exploring the potential
wrapped up in her challenge in 2019.

I'm picking up her gauntlet.

Are you working with a word in 2019?
If you are,
I hope you'll share it in the comments below...
Our sky was filled with hope this morning,
the first of 2019.
I look for signs in this world,
and this one gave me goosebumps.