a good day to stay home

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Yesterday the temperatures here reached 50° F, the mud in my driveway reached a depth of about 5 inches, and clearly, spring had sprung.

Except it hadn’t. Because today brought this:

Snow1Snow3Snow4

 

We made a quick trip out for violin lessons this morning, but returned home as quickly as we could, deeming this “a good day to stay home.” We’ve made use of the time to read, practice instruments, skype with Grandma, shovel the steps, and recite speaking competition poems.

In fits and spurts I’ve accomplished a few projects as well. Using this recipe, I made soft pretzels for the first time in years. They were delicious, and disappeared faster than you could say “pretzel.”

Pretzel

 

I also stitched up a number shirt for my baby, who has now turned SIX (!) and insists that he is not my baby anymore. Little does he know…..

Six

I finally got to work on the stuffed owl a friend ordered for a new baby gift. I’ve been planning this one for over a month now, and I’m excited about the color combination, but I need a fabric for the beak, and I don’t want to start stitching until I have it. This is my first owl, and I’ve found the process of creating the pattern both invigorating and frustrating. I used a mix of new and vintage fabrics, and a few different textures, imagining someone’s sweet baby girl exploring the different sensations of flannel, vintage sheet, and quilting cotton.

Owl

 

What’s the weather like where you are this weekend?

crazy crazy quilt

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It’s been quite a week around here, with two little boys home with the flu (the real flu), and one Mama tethered to the house and about at her wits’ end. I needed work to occupy my hands and mind, but days on end of laundry and housework gets old. Fast.

Eventually, I dug this silly project out of a pile somewhere, and I’ve been working at it in little bits here and there, which makes it the perfect project to squeeze in between requests for popsicles and water, medication dosages, and soothing sibling peevishness.crazy1

You never know what you’ll find when you walk into a thrift shop, as was the case several years ago when I stumbled on stacks and stacks of these 10″ x 10″ crazy quilt blocks. Now mind, when I say crazy, I mean CRAZY. These blocks have everything. Some awesome old vintage fabric. Some crazy mod retro fabric. Some decorator fabric (of various vintages). Some scary-ugly 1980s novelty print fabric. Some fabrics that words can’t do justice. crazydeerCrazy bugswildquilt

They sat in my stash for well over a year as I tried to figure out what project could absorb such chaos. And then, when we bought this big old house, I realized that between the farmhouse and the camp at the lake, I had about 8 beds that needed dressing, and nowhere near enough blankets. In Northern Maine, where our temperatures have rarely risen above 0°F in the last 2 months, that’s a bad situation in which to find one’s self.

About this time last year, I put most of the blocks together into a queen-size quilt, and that now covers the master bed at the camp. To my surprise, the quilt really isn’t ugly when you look at it as a whole. In fact, all that randomness kind of merges together in a cohesive whole.campbed

The rest of the blocks are now destined to become a full-size quilt for the futon at the camp. Stitching the blocks into strips and the strips into a whole can be done in short or long spurts, and requires no thought and little attention. It clears out space in my stash AND keeps us warm, which makes it the perfect project.pilesofsquares

artisan bread yum

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breadI have been hearing about these no-knead, overnight, artisan Dutch oven breads for months (years?). I read the posts and tutorials, and I was on board. It looked like magic. But alas, I had no Dutch oven. So I carried on, making bread as I always had, fantasizing about round crusty loaves.

When my Mama gave me this cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas, it was a no brainer. I would make the good crusty bread.dutchoven

I followed this recipe, and the family deems it a success. And holy easiness, Batman!

I have a batch of dough rising for my best friend, as I speak. I can’t stop imagining the possibilities. Vive le pain!closebread

for the love of a girl

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littlefriend

There’s a little girl I adore, who always has a huge smile and an even bigger hug when she sees me, who used to hold my hand while we snowshoed, and who climbed into my lap and fell (almost) asleep at a local restaurant one night. This little girl has the loveliest red hair and a silly streak a mile wide and reads beautifully (though she’s only in first grade). This sweet girl has the best supportive parents, everything going for her, and wisdom beyond her years. She is ravishingly beautiful, and kind, and sensitive. She is the little girl I wish I had, and also the little girl I was.

And yet, this girl isn’t happy.

I know your jaw just dropped. Mine did too, and does, every time this reality sinks in.

Damn this world we live in, with unattainable standards of beauty that find their way even to 7 year olds. Damn this world, with ridiculously sexualized clothing for little girls. Damn this world in which even first graders know when they are different, and know (unmistakably) that different is not OK.

This sweet dream of a girl thinks that she is fat. And that her clothes are ugly. And that she is terribly, irrevocably, unforgivably DIFFERENT.

Nothing, and no one, at least right now, can convince her that different is good, better even. And yet we’re all leaning into her, and hugging her as often as we can, because this. stuff. sucks.

Recently, this girl invited me to her birthday party. Just me, not my boys. gift

I was thrilled, and honored, and felt charged with such responsibility. I would go, I would love her, I would tell her that she’s amazing just because she’s her. I would be one of the ranks of strong different (weird) women who reflected the exquisite funky weird gorgeous self that she is.

The party was this afternoon. Of course, the boys here are sick, and I worried about leaving them, and also about spreading the germs. In the end I stopped by for a few minutes, dropped off the gift I made, hugged her mom, and then left.

It wasn’t much, and it couldn’t possibly say everything I wanted to tell her. But maybe it will be a friend, on those dark nights when she needs one. Every little girl should have such a friend.

sweetgirlmonkey

{this moment}

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peeking

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

need to make

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stairwell curtainsTo say this move has been all-consuming would be a gross understatement. For months now, all my time, energy, work, creativity, and focus has been directed at this move. Plan, paint, scrub, strip, pack, plan, shop, organize, move, carry, find, paint, scrub, arrange, clean, wash, sweep, move, plan, organize, oversee. Repeat. And I have done a lot. Largely due to my efforts (or organizing of assistance), the farmhouse got clean, painted, wallpaper stripped. Things got moved in, and mostly unpacked. Boys’ rooms were set up and spruced up and cozied up. The lawn was mowed and a clothesline set up, and fresh flowers put on tables and nightstands. The lake house was (mostly) emptied, cleaned, kitchen painted, additional sheets/towels/sofas/pillows/kitchenware sourced. The flower beds were weeded and deck chairs put out. Guests arrived to fresh flowers on the table and nightstand, a great music selection, and a guest book to sign. favorite cornersmall boy's first bedroombig bedlake great roomclothesline

And for all these months, excepting the few days I was so sick (bronchitis, sinus infection, ear infection) that I could. not. get. off. the. couch, I’ve just let this all move in and take over my brain and my soul, and it’s been OK. There’s been no time or space in my home or in my head for sewing, or Etsy, or knitting, or anything else, really.

And then, about 2 weeks ago, the itch began. I felt it first as an indescribable longing for something, an inability to “settle” to any of the myriad tasks still needing attention (more cleaning, stripping, painting, weeding, unpacking…. oh, and did I mention that there’s no dishwasher at the farmhouse?). Then it took shape as a need for “my” space, a studio space. But even trying to carve a bit of studio space out of the unfinished spaces in this big old house didn’t satisfy.studio storage

And then I recognized it for what it had been all along: a need to make. Something, anything, tangible and non-edible. Last Sunday afternoon found me setting the old machine up at the kitchen table (when I discovered that none of the outlets in the erstwhile “studio” work), digging out some vintage pillowcases, and doing some quick, simple, unnecessary (but oh-so-gratifying) stitching.

This big old house has two staircases, and in the back staircase is this funky little alcove that the big boy has claimed all along as a “reading nook” (oh, he is my child!). We call it The Reading Nook, and he does a fair bit of reading there, but with only a couple throw pillows and whichever blankets he could drag off his bed, it’s been a pretty poor den. reading nook

When I sat down to sew last weekend, I worked from an idea that had been percolating for months, roughly based on this project. I think the space probably needs another one or two of these two wrap around the walls, but in less than 1/2 hour, I’d scratched a bit of that creative itch, and made a very, very happy big boy. reading nook progress

Ahhhhhh. It feels good to be back at it.