squam : part 2, the making……

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I love walking through the woods to get to class and meals…… Squammies leave small treasures here and there. Yarn bits, pompoms, stones, feathers to leave love notes & wishes on.

I took a class with two of the kindest and most talented artists on Thursday and Friday.

First was a day of stamp carving with Penelope Dullaghan. We learned the basics of cutting stamps, using tools, and how to create patterns with and without repeats. I had this idea of making a Goddess or Sacred Woman stamp inspired by a coffee mug I saw at an art fair this summer. It ended up looking like a sacred woman in more ways than one – which made the class giggle – it's the stamped notebook above. I'll let you decide what it looks like. I am especially smitten with my feather stamps!!! I see lots of stamped feather goods in my future…. and just ordered some fabric paint to test it out on. Penny was a fabulous teacher and really fun to hang out with all day.

Day two was spoon carving with Barry Buck of Linen and Spoon! I had the chance to meet Barry and his family last spring when we visited Squam as vendors – I think we live in some parallel universe because I have so much in common with his wife that I swear we are long lost, sisters. (She thinks so too – it's not just me!) I learned how to carve a spoon, and didn't injure myself! Holy sharp tools – it really is like meditation, you have to pay such close attention. I have just two layers of sanding left and I'll share it here with you….. I also purchased some carving tools and a few spoon blanks to carve a few more. I loved it!

Lastly, on Saturday I attended the Squam Art Fair  - our table is the triangle shelf display…. the spoon picture is from Linen & Spoon's table and lastly a picture of my treasures! (linen & wooden goods by Linen & Spoon – shirts by untold – necklace by AG Ambroult.)

So much making and handmade goodness to be shared and enjoyed.

Happy weekending friends.

xo~
s

 

squam : part 1, the magic………

*Just to warn you, I am SO going to overuse the word "magic" in this post. It can't be helped.* 

I'm still reveling in the in-between space, "between Squam and real-life". I'm sure it sounds sentimental, but being at Squam this last time my dear friend Elizabeth hosted felt especially magical. For a decade she has worked her magic and poured her heart and soul into a gathering that draws the best of people. Truly. Elizabeth herself is one of the most caring, authentic, and generous souls I have ever met – and this manifests itself in people of the same caliber from all over the world who come to gather in the woods. We celebrate being creative – full of life – full of love. This September seemed to hold even more wonderful people than usual – no doubt there to support and send off their dearest fairy godmother and welcome in the new fairy goddaughter. It was emotional, beautiful, magical. Just the sort of thing endings and beginnings always are. I cannot even find the words to tell you how grateful I felt to be a part of it. So, so much.

Spending these days taking great care of myself – soaking in the woo – nurturing my spirit and connecting with new and old friends – oh, let me tell you – they are worth their weight in gold. Especially for those of us who rarely take the time to place ourselves in the center. This was my second time attending Squam – the first was here – but we have been lucky enough to attend as vendors a few times in between. I wanted to paint a picture for you – share with you what it feels like to return to a place you know is magic, pictures seem to do the best job of this….. so here you have the arrival and settling in….. 

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more tomorrow –

xoxo,

s

 

do this one thing now……

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These pictures are from a visit to the farm in late spring of this year. The leaves were just beginning to pop on most things and the apple tree was full of blossoms. I'm not quite sure if this is an on purpose apple tree or a wild apple tree. I guess mother earth doesn't really differentiate between those two, does she? Just those of us humans hoping for "decent apples" do. Next time I hope to make time (and remember) to look for a grafting scar at her base. This spring, I stood underneath her and looked up at the sky through her branches. Overcast. Damp cold air. Magic light streaming through. Soaking in the energy of the land we will someday call home.

Progress is slow going on the farm. We have cleared brush. Filled our bellies with dewberries. Identified plants we know. Forged paths. Cleared a space for a tiny cabin. It might happen this year and it might not. I'm doing my best to be patient and let it all unfold in its own time. Easier said than done.

Joe & I took an apple grafting class this spring and successfully grafted 10 apple trees. So far they are still alive. I think we'll baby them here over the next year and plant them up north spring of 2019 – the same spring we plan to put the Massachusetts house on the market. We have blackberries, grapes, apple trees and raspberries that all need to be slowly moved north too. And about two dozen medicinal herbs. It's kind of overwhelming to imagine where to put anything on 4-5 acres of pasture. I guess we can always move it again though. Getting it there is the first part. Which kind of reminds me of my current life mantra – do this one thing now. It's easy to get caught up in the millions of things between now and two years from now. And sometimes if I think too much about it I feel the empty heaviness of anxiety pressing on my heart – but one thing? I can do one thing, now. And eventually, all those tiny things will add up. 

Do any of you remember the Shel Silverstein poem, Melinda Mae? It's a favorite of mine…. I'll share it with you (if you haven't shared Shel's poetry with your kids, do check it out. The audio was a favorite of ours!)

 

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,

Who ate a monstrous whale?

She thought she could,

She said she would,

So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said, "You're much too small,"

But that didn't bother Melinda at all.

She took little bites and she chewed very slow,

Just like a good girl should…

…And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale

Because she said she would! 

    ~Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

 

I love it so – a good message for living by.

So I'm just kind of trucking along these days. Trying to remember to do this one thing now, and also to stop and look up at the magic light streaming through the branches.

 

xo,

s

  

almost like a farmer…….

Herbgarden

 

Almost a year ago I decided to convert my vegetable garden to medicinal herbs. I spent the spring scouring every nursery for plants, visited local farms, and slowly planted beds a few plants at a time.

My goal was to start a Community Supported Herbalism project: a seasonal apothecary share of freshly made herbal products with herbs grown on our homestead or sustainably wildcrafted from nature. I had a very limited amount of members and spent the season tending to the herbs and making fresh plant remedies. My love of herbs and the earth deepened. My ties with my community grew. Somewhere in July with my whole face buried deep in a bed of tulsi, I knew I had truly fallen into a place I was meant to be. It just felt right.

 

Oregeno

 

Spilanthes

 

This winter I sat and looked over my notes, at what worked and what didn't. What was popular with my members and what they were unsure about. I read wonderful books. I learned and grew as a herbalist and new (dare I say) herb farmer. I chose new plants to add this year – thinking of both my needs as a herbalist and the pollinators I share my growing space with. I'll be adding at least one more raised bed, perhaps two as my plant heart and growing space usually do not communicate with one another well. Our program will expand to include 24 members for 2017. Slow & steady growth.

 

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I have big dreams for the future. Within the next year, I will be digging up the bulk of these herbs (mostly perennials) and moving them north to the farm in New York. In five years I hope to be settled in our new farmhouse, selling my herbs & products at the tiny local farmer's market and teaching in our new community. I see my dream unfolding, little by little. As a person who struggles to keep herself in the moment – always caught up in planning for the next move – these plants are literally grounding me. With every weed to pull. Seedling to care for. Flower and leaf to harvest. Medicine to make. Knowledge to share. They grab hold of my wanderlust and keep it from carrying me away.

And this time of year I sketch maps for bed plans, recipes for products and make list after list, almost like a farmer……

xo,

s

 

ps – if you are interested in our CSH program (herbal apothecary share), click on the link to read more about it. we ship in the US & Canada and have 10 spaces left for the 2017 season – we are also hosting a giveaway of one share on Instagram this week!

 

stories : 1

My kids are always telling me I should read one of their newest and loved adventures. Usually fantasy or science fiction. And while I do love hearing the plot and all about the characters from them, these genres don't speak to my soul in the same way as theirs… and when I do have time (which is not often enough) to curl up with a book (that is not for studying)…… I long to be immersed in someone's story. To feel as if I am standing there beside them, in real-life oh-shit-this-could-be-me kind of stories. Creative Fiction has long been my truest love. With this thought, I decided to start writing some of my own stories down here, on a regular basis. Ramblings and such. No photographs. Just words. This is the first, but I'm hoping many will follow…..

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I'm sitting in the warm spot of sunlight in my room. Cross-legged on the floor in-between the dresser and bed because that is where the sun is. Maggie is curled up next to me, slowly squeezing more than her fair share of the sun rays streaming through the window. If I close my eyes, I can almost trick myself into believing it's summer out there instead of mid-January.

Jade has been slowly taking over Sam's room in the basement since he moved out last fall. My nest is short one chick and the rest are filling in the space left by his absence. This one room move has made the whole lot of them want to take a new one. There is plans for fresh paint and decluttering and new spaces as they each move up to the next sibling's room. It's interesting to see them all deal with his absence in their own ways. I wonder how it will shift as each one takes flight… and what the last one left behind will do.

I planted myself in this sunny spot to do some paperwork and pay some bills. However I am distracted by noise below me, I can hear Jade's music playing in the basement and all three of the kids singing along to Nirvana. Which is really so hilarious, because the soundtrack to my own and their teenage years is so similar – hipster kids and their retro music. I have this familiar feeling sweep through my chest – it feels like a loss, but not a sad loss if that makes sense – I felt it the first time in full force last fall when I said goodbye to Sam when he moved to Alaska. It's followed by the overwhelming love I have for these creatures who call me mama. Now matter how big or small they are.

I close the computer screen and instead sit with the dog in the sun. Eyes closed. Half pretending it's summer and half remembering the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit as it plays, realizing I never did figure that song out…..

xo~

s

 

elving……

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We got the last bit of the packages out in the mail yesterday. Both to family and customers. (thank you to our customers for the amazing support this season – it was our busiest yet and we are so grateful!) We're not heading to NY to visit family until after the holidays so I have a bit of extra time to gather up the last few pieces of those baskets…. and a baking date with my kiddos this Friday.

There is a lot of elving going on too. The kids have reached the age where very little is needed from me in their gift buying/making process. They tend to squirrel away in their rooms or slip away at art fairs and come back excited and wide-eyed and accusing me of peeking. (I never peek!)

I love watching them all carefully wrap their treasures-to-be-gifted and place them under the tree. Joe & I never put anything out until Solstice – and then only one gift each for the kids. The rest we save for Christmas Eve. Santa only fills stockings here and we keep things pretty simple, but it is still fun to have gifts the kids have not seen around the tree Christmas morning. I must admit to rearranging and fluffing everything up to make less look like more. I often wonder how these simple holidays will transfer over into their own traditions someday…

We got a few boxes from my mom yesterday and they had so much fun opening them and handing them to the recipient to put under the tree. (mom, I put the books under – I didn't even peek inside them!) There were a few things in the box from their oldest brother who moved out this fall and up to Alaska – he wrote a few funny things on the tags which made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes all at once.

I've got a bit of last-minute knitting to finish up at some point today and then I'll have a little handmade something for everyone here to accompany solstice pajamas – a long-standing tradition of ours.

Gosh, I managed to wander all over the place in my thoughts while writing this post. I suppose it's time to leave this cozy spot by the fire and start checking off that to-do list a bit more.

Happy elving to you…..

xo,

s

  

corners of home…..

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This marks our fourth winter in this house.

It seems that each time we move and settle in, the time zips by more quickly than the last.

Didn't we just get here? Oh goodness, look at those little faces!

We're once again in the waiting phase after filling out the list, though this time we didn't put anything on it other than a request to stay here longer. Joe's command is trying hard to keep him. I am hopeful, but not counting any chickens so to speak. I think we have a good chance of getting one more year. And while I am grateful for that….. a one-year extension sort of just stretches out the waiting game even l-o-n-g-e-r. Instead of 6 months of worrying and waiting – you get 18. And so it goes.

Right now I am looking around this too big house that has held our family with the soft, kind eyes that I always do when leaving is on the horizon. With gratitude. I am grateful for this house & the people around us we have called home. Tidy, messy… all the corners of this space. I am excited to think we might be closer to starting our life on the farm and sad to think the time is nearing to leave. Again. Bittersweet, this leaving.

All these feelings mixed up inside my heart and belly. And my long time go-to for dealing with them? Tidy, organize, purge. I've actually laughed at myself quite a bit this time around at how predictable this has become – at least according to my family. 

I guess that's mostly all for now.

 

One last thing, a few bits to share…..

Honey Sweetened Marshmallows (top photo in sunday-morning-mochas – the BEST marshmallows ever!)

Currently on my needles (fluffy, squishy, goodness)

A Holiday Book List (c)heck the comments for even more books)

Squam Art Workshop Announcement (last call!)

New Facial Goods (by me!)

 

Happy Weekending to you….

xo,

s

 

softly……

Softly

 

The renewal is up for the blog this month. I looked over the last year and realized I had posted a small handful of times. Less & less in the latter half of the year. 

Joe asked me awhile back why I stopped writing. Not here on the blog so much, but real writing. In notebooks. On pages stuffed into notebooks. I didn't have a real answer. I'm just so busy, I said to him. He nodded. 

The blog has become this strange thing for me – it's mostly in my head mind you – but because I wrote less and less real life here….. it started to feel separate from me. A memory of what was. The kids growing older. My career path popping up and taking hold of my time. It's funny really, this sense of self and how we paint it with words on screens to people we've never met. How much truth do we tell? What stories do we share? How vulnerable are we willing to be – or can we be, while still being mindful of the way our stories are interwoven with those around us…. Are we just another voice in an already loud and busy place? Perhaps.

I'm not sure of any of these…. but I've been thinking about them over the last few weeks. Debating the level of my bravery to show up here in the moment I am in and share that. I mean, posts about good food and living creatively and pets in sweaters are great – but for me – they become fluff if there isn't a raw-truthful-uncut-holy-shit-it-isn't-just-me bit every now and then. Soul connection, you know?

So I ask myself (renewal looming) how to start again.

And the answer comes…….softly.

 

xo,

s

 

Alaska 2016 – A few favorites…..

Alaska

We traveled to Alaska in September to visit family and friends, the youngest two & I. These days we only get up there every other year, so the time spent hanging out is all the more precious. I posted on instagram during our visit – and this collection is my favorite photos from that.

It seemed so strange going with just these two – and also so easy after years of having twice as many kids with me. We managed to pack in so many adventures and so much time making memories with people we love. So many of my friends are having babies or have little ones and I loved hanging out watching them getting their mama groove on. There was a trip to a remote cabin on the beach. Knitting. Baby showers. So many seafood dinners. Hikes. Lots of coffee with mom. Time with my sweet nephews. It was such a good visit and my heart is full listening to my kids tell stories from their adventures to friends here as we settle back into home…..

More soon.

xo,

s

 

blooming and growing…….

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A common theme on my camera and to-do list these days.

Water, weed, bloom, repeat.

Every time I blink another week has slipped past and I find myself wondering how on earth this summer is zipping by so quickly.

It's just the pace of the days with a house mostly full of teenagers, mixed with the mama holding down an official part-time commitment to plants.

Saturday Markets. Gardening. Homestead chores. Herbal product making. Eating. Driving school for the big girl. Work schedules and play dates and camping trips squeezed in the midst of it all. And more eating, because let me tell you four growing kids need a lot of fuel. I've been looking at the hammock wistfully…. but there just doesn't seem to be time.

And somehow – I am okay with all of this. It's new and settling in slowly…. but juggling all these beautiful pieces of life is starting to feel balanced…. if that can even be a real thing. Can it?

I flipped the calendar ahead to our fall plans and was slapped by the reality that my oldest is just a few weeks away from being 20. Next oldest 18. Two adults. TWO! One headed to her freshman year of college this fall (but still staying home for now as the school is local) and the other looking at packing a bag and heading somewhere. He tried college one semester and being a prep cook for a year and after saving some money is thinking of traveling around a bit to see what's out there. Still in the finding himself phase of growing up. We're encouraging this. If he gets stuck in some place a few time zones away and needs rescuing, we'd do so. Though I doubt we'd need to. 

I have these moments where I am completely caught off guard by how much the kids have grown. Our other upcoming birthdays are 14 and 10. They'll all be double digits this month, it feels kind of huge. Kind of amazing. I can't believe I've been parenting for two decades…..

Which reminds me, I sat next to this rather peculiar man at a fancy dinner party (for Joe's work) and he asked me a million questions about our life. You know when someone goes a tad beyond casual conversation and you start to feel a bit like you're being interviewed? It was one of those. He was so surprised to learn we had four children and even MORE surprised when I told him they had all homeschooled at some point and two still were. 

Goodness, he said to me, we sent ours off to school as soon as they were old enough. 

Trying to be polite I said, well I suppose it's nice to have a break a few hours every day. 

He laughed and said, oh not locally, to boarding school.

While I am usually very well behaved at events my husband is attending in a professional matter, this comment caught me so off guard that I answered him before I thought much about it.

Oh, I really enjoy my children. In fact, I genuinely like their company and who they are becoming as human beings. I said.

He looked a bit stunned. And then carried on with his questioning. Fortunately, the auctioneer started up and was too loud for the conversation to last much longer…. 

I'm really not even going to bother with any judgment about this man's idea of raising children. I actually just want to hold onto the part where my own truth jumped out - and how good that felt, and how after all this time I still regularly look at these four of mine with such amazement and such gratitude. Blooming and growing into their own selves as I do my best to water, weed, bloom, repeat. 

xo,

s

(edited to add, I have no issue with what families choose for their children's educational paths – it's a very personal decision and we all do what is best for our own family – I do however question parents who outwardly express their dislike of their own children.)