Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween

I finally decided who I want to be on Halloween...another master of disguise: Frida Kahlo. I am in love with her and her wild, feminine passion.  I know it is trite to love Frida, but I have this fabulous traditional Mexican dancing dress a friend brought me from Mexico last year. Add a unibrow and hand earrings (like the ones Picasso gave to Frida) and I'm in costume without much work. Wonder if Chance wants to be my Diego?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op: Wanted: Simple, Green and Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op: Wanted: Simple, Green and Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Do Not Read This if you are in my family (or, an idea list)

I had some ideas for a handmade, homemade Christmas to share. Many of them are collaborations between parents and children, or things you can do as a whole family. I am uncertain if we will be able to get to them all but we will try!
Here goes:
1. Painted fabric can be made into wallhangings, pillows, wall quilts, ornaments, journal covers....the list is only limited by your imagination. Ask your kids what they think!
2. Felted slippers using my technique for the treasure bag, only covering an appropriately-sized piece of foam and covering the whole thing and cutting a different hole. More about this in a week or so. A visit to a local sheep farm is a lovely way to source your wool. Check out if you can't find local sheep.
3. A hand-drawn book of blessings and verses for mealtimes. Again, the possibilities are endless. They can include hand-written blessings, children's drawings or paintings, handmade paper covers, etc.
4. Serena loves to cut fabric. All those bits of fabric can be arranged, mosaic-style, on another piece of fabric and then attached using Stitch-Witchery (the iron-on product used to fuse fabric to fabric). This piece of fabric is then keepsake children's art for the wall. Add some stitching from all family members for a family project.
5. I highly recommend making a CD. If you have a friend who can play guitar or piano, can do that yourself, and can learn a few Christmas songs as a family (or non-Christmas songs!) then you have the makings for a CD. What a treasure it is for friends and family to hear the sounds of singing children. Renting a studio can cost about $100-$150. Rent the studio with the recording engineer and make a memory. Come away with 10-15 CDs you can give as gifts. Have too much fun in the process. Locally, try Louisville Recording Arts.
6. Stuff from sheets. I found a knitting pattern for a bathmat using torn sheet strips, and I'm also going to sew pajama bottoms using the bag of sheets I've saved.
7. When a local fabric store closed I found a $5 bolt of very, very stiff interfacing. I have sewn journals and bowls after fusing it to fabric, and also a baby bunting bed. Blank journals are incredibly easy and quick to stitch up.
8. I usually make hand and lip balm too. Google recipes and get your supplies from Majestic Mountain Sage. I do try to either use my own beeswax or source wax from local beekeepers.
More ideas? Simple Green frugal Co-op is doing a list.
Whew, that was a lot...I apparently have stuff to do now! Holiday Blessings!

In Church

Lately I have been finding myself in church.
I have attended the Church of the Morning Run, where colored leaves and blue sky and cold breath sing songs of gratitude.
I have attended the Church of Knitting Peacefully after the children are asleep, where the rare quiet sings a hymn of goodness and mercy.
I have been to the Church of Holding a Sick Child, where smelling her head and touching her forehead to my lips is a prayer of humility and watchful grace.
I have been to the Church of Baby Laughter, where there are no walls and there is no time and fervent hymns for the joy of being are long sung.
I have been to the Church of Washing Dishes, where the sermon is about forgiveness and seeing beauty in the struggle.
There is also the Church of Relationship Tension, where sometimes I feel so lost that the only thing to do is throw up my hands up in surrender.
The Church of My Own Mistakes is a place I can only frequent on my knees and am reminded that only time will give the cleansing and healing I desire.
There is so much love around me, if I only let myself wander to the church steps on hearing the hymns of praise. They hang like lanterns in this newly-chilled air.
My life flows on, in endless song.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween and Art

When I was in high school, my grandmother bought a subscription to Art News for me. She was one of my "suns", as described in "Women Who Run With the Wolves". She bought me the really nice pastels, and paper to go with it. She fed me as an artist, and somewhere along the line I became so shy, so wounded around my creativity that I would not even regale myself with the term "artist."
Gosh, that train of thought went into an intense place, so quickly! After a long process of growth, I do call myself an artist now, and everyone else is an artist too. We can nurture each other.
At any rate, Art News is where I first heard about Cindy Sherman. She touches a deep desire in me to dress up and take pictures of myself. My teenagers do not know who she is but they naturally do this....they are always modeling and posing for the camera....sometimes with props. Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to discover some women artists together. I have a few in mind. Let the dressing up begin.
So, just follow this link and get lost awhile. Or go ahead and Google, or go to

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog announcement

I have created another blog out of several impulses: first, a wish and desire to connect with other teachers of handwork, and to provide a resource for those wishing to implement handwork into their home or public school. It will be composed entirely of work that is not my own! Second, I wish to deepen my own work as a handwork teacher. When I taught music, I found there is an organization and conference for music teachers in a Waldorf school. The one conference I attended was so incredibly helpful and the email list of the organization (ANAWME) such a treasure trove that I do not know how I would have taught without it. My teaching would certainly not have been as rich! I do not believe there is one for foreign language teachers, and certainly not for handwork teachers. So, it is my attempt to connect. Not to reinvent the wheel, for there are several handwork blogs out there, but I just wanted one a little more formal. I have questions and I also have 8 years' experience as a trained Waldorf handwork teacher. So I have knowledge to pass on and many things to learn and simply want to bring the conversation to life.
Please help me spread the word...the blog is found here.
Thanks so much!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Parenting Resources

I just love it when passions come together in one place, where language colludes and ideas marry. Waldorf, therapy, parenting, spirituality...all these come together in one book: Parenting With Spirit. I have been reading this book and find it incredibly succinct, accessible, and one of the few Waldorf books to actually address the issue of feelings...not necessarily the child's feelings....but how parents manage their own feelings. I can't stop talking about it and have been using it with my parent-child classes. It got me thinking about parenting books that I can't live without for early childhood. So far, what I recommend is Heaven on Earth and You Are Your Child's First Teacher. For living through the seasons, and handwork projects that many, many other books have merely imitated, you can't beat The Children's Year and All Year Round. If you have just those 5 books for a base, you will be pretty set.
Other books I have found helpful are the Daniel Goleman books (Social Intelligence, etc.) Parenting From the Inside Out, Chores Without Wars, Sally Goddard Blythe's books. I also like to check out what is considered mainstream or popular within the AP community just so I can gain perspective and have options.
What parenting books do you find yourself recommending without being asked? What books help you feel nurtured as a parent?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthy Hassling

Serena is 6. Among many things no one tells you when you become a parent, 6 is one of those things. 6 is hard. In Waldorf circles, it is even sometimes referred to as the "6 year change", much like the "9 year change." For us, we have noticed all the developmental things, like an increased interest in letters, body parts of both sexes, antipathy toward things previously enjoyed, and some movement milestones met. Others, like riding a bike, we are still working on. One thing I have noticed in myself is that I feel like the mother I was when the children were 18 months...I say "no" a lot. But the "no" does not come from a place of physically redirecting a toddler's insatiable, and sometimes unsafe, curiosity. It comes from a place of constantly re-iterating my stance on certain things.
Like food, for example. She will ask if she can have a dessert for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner. Or "health food cheetos" or any other thing I don't want her growing body to have. I will say no. She will start to try to negotiate with me. I sometimes become irritated.
I finally stepped back and asked why I was saying "no" so many times, and also why I was becoming so irritated.
There is this "old" book I have from the 90's called, "Self Esteem, a Family Affair". The book talks about "healthy hassling". Healthy hassling is keeping one step ahead of children, and taking their "no's" with a light heart, and is more for teenagers than 6-year-olds. I also read "Outliers" and in this book the author talked about different negotiation skills among socioeconomic levels. Both books inspired me to think of "healthy negotiation." Am I trying to teach my child that what I say goes, no matter what? Or do I want her to be able to negotiate mindfully to get her needs and wishes met? Of course, I want to teach her how to negotiate. And, I want her to respect my authority. I am not sure how my family of origin would handle negotiating....I think they were more of the "what I say, goes!" flavor. And, as a parent, because you hold the boundaries, some things are just not negotiable. But some things are, and at age 6, I think she is ready to be able to learn how to negotiate in a way that is pleasurable for both of us. Whining is not a pleasurable way to negotiate. But asking kindly is. Screaming is not a way to protest. But using words is. The list of what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable is being developed on the fly!
I have been telling her a story about a mother and child who meet a bear in the woods. The bear roars a lot. Together, they find out why the bear roars (his paw is hurt) and they help the bear to calm down and be tame enough to walk past in the woods without fear of being roared at.
That is where I am in my parenting journey today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I did it. I reneged.

The pressure was immense. Once I was out of my post-art-fair funk, I ventured to my basement. Lord help us all. There were the skeins of yarn bought 6 years ago to make a sweater for Chance. One can't just have that kind of yarn laying around. Something MUST be done. And then there were the sheets. Oh yes, a bag of old sheets waiting to make this, or to be made into pajamas for in-laws. And then the little pattern for Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.And the red wool I bought years ago that needs to be made into a coat now before Serena grows and I don't have enough fabric.  And the shrug I am working on for Madeline that was supposed to be finished last year. And then I went to Ravelry and completely padded my queue. I just can't not make anything for Christmas. I know I said I wouldn't, but it's just too much fun and so what if I'm overwhelmed. I am just a delicate flower to be so easily overwhelmed but that doesn't mean I will wilt! That just won't do.
So now my constant companion (besides baby Davis) is going to be a knitting or sewing project from here until Christmas.

Farm lust

Every once in awhile, I become completely sentimental and want to connect all that I believe off the earth, making a handmade life for my family, living in the rhythms of nature, caring for animals and growing my own food....I think it is the healthiest of lives for children.... We visited a farm this past weekend. They had a sweet farm store they were opening, and Chance got to do spot massage, and I got to set up my spinning wheel and also sell my wares. I didn't sell much, because there was a soapmaker there, a printing press that makes these incredible cards and Wendell Berry books, by setting the type by hand, and so many flower bulbs and produce. I was able to barter for all kinds of wonderful things. There were chickens, an old farmhouse, dogs, cats, greenhouses, barns, Jersey cows, and a donkey. You could not part Serena from that donkey. A girl and her donkey. Most of the time around here it is "a mom and her rabbits" or " a baby boy and his dog". We all connect to some creature around here.
Someday I will have a farm. And grow old enough to be called "the goat lady."

Monday, October 19, 2009

re: Repurposing

Yes, I know, The picture is not impressive. But, this is what I was writing about Thursday. My soon-to-be sister-in-law made these out of old t-shirts. She sewed two t-shirts together along the bottom, and then cut off the sleeves and sewed the armholes and necklines together. You would not believe this, but people actually stop me in Whole Foods and ask me where I got those bags, or remark about how clever they are. I can't go anywhere without those bags attracting attention. So, there is one cool repurposing idea. It got me thinking about how many t-shirts there are with pithy sayings that would make a fun bag. (My brother, who is 6'8" and no small fry, has a t-shirt that says "I beat anorexia, ask me how" I think the effect would be lost on a bag though.)
I was planning on posting this on Friday, but obviously "flaked out" (in 80's terms). Life and relationship strains and changing plans all got to me. Today I decided blogging was like putting on make-up to go to the grocery store. Life holds heavy things sometimes, too many woes coming at once can weigh you down. But you still have to engage in the world. You still have to get up in the morning and tackle the eternal list. Putting on a face and going out somehow helps diminish the load, if only temporarily. And you always see someone you know in the grocery, and if they start whining before you get to, then you realize it's not so bad for you and then you forget what you had to whine about. Ideally anyway.

So, let's hear it for wearing lipstick while blogging.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Whole Lotta Repurposin' Goin' On

First, you must know that my husband is a bodyworker, a Rolfer to be exact. He has extolled the virtues of moving your body and to that end, has brought plenty of props into our home. One of those most-used props is the exercise ball. We have several different sizes and several of them have "bitten the dust" and popped like a balloon.
Before I go on, you must also know that my husband and I met at a restaurant, while he was on a date and I was not. I knew the girl he was with, and we started talking, and Chance found out I taught voice lessons. He asked me if I could teach him to "throw" his voice, you know, ventriloquism. I just looked at him or laughed awkwardly, I don't remember. I think he eventually found out I taught singing.
Well, imagine my complete surprise when he brought a ball to me and said not to throw it away. We messies always marry someone neat who know how to throw stuff away.  But, imagine my lack of surprise when he brought a deflated ball to me and asked if I could make a pair of shoes with it. If he thinks I can "throw" my voice (all moms can, of course!) then surely I can make shoes out of anything. For two years I have contemplated what to do with my husband's suggestion and now I present to new slippers!

The tops are an old wool blanket, and lined with organic flannel. The bottoms exercise ball! The cut-up ball totally sewed like a dream on my sewing machine with a size 16 leather needle.They are not exactly finished but I couldn't wait to wear them. Exercise balls make perfect soles.

Tomorrow, another repurpose job that we LOVE by my future sister-in-law!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Signs of Chill

It is always interesting, the weather. I feel like I am channeling my inner wise old farmer and standing around, chewing tobacco, discussing myriad, seemingly meaningless details. Here at this turning of the year, Old Man Winter lurks in the back of my mind. What will he bring this year and what are the signs?
Like spiders. The webs outside this year have been plenty and spectacular. Nothing inspires awe in this knitter and weaver of things more than a web a spider has so patiently and lovingly devised. Has anyone else been spider-watching this year? The spiders in my house seem to have multiplied as well. And, oh, the mosquitoes! We were standing outside yesterday,  weather in the 50's, and the mosquitoes were acting like it was dusk in balmy July. Of course it is cold, almost cold enough to frost. Almost.
The Farmer's Almanac is forecasting a cold winter, but who knows? What signs have you seen and what do you think it means for our winter?

On another note, there was an article in the Leo about sweet potatoes and how they are high in iron. The article was written by someone from Foxhollow farm and was relating their iron content to Michaelmas and the steeling of your will. How incredibly lucky we are to have Foxhollow here....we can get biodynamic food anytime.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Running Women

I've been contemplating something I read in Women Who Run With the Wolves. I read this book about ten years ago and have come back to it over and over. It's to your psyche...your soul, what "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" is to your body. At any rate, the book was describing the not-beautiful. In my contemplation, I was able to access a place of gratitude for all the "not-beautiful" in my personal history, for every challenge ideally leads to deeper growth, or preparation for subsequent life experience, and hopeful appreciation for the truly beautiful. What a rich subject that is, as it involves themes of forgiveness, darkness, hope, painful growth....I just needed to read more, so I pulled out my copy of the book.
I could not, for the life of me, find where the "not-beautiful" was. But in poking around the book again, I found this quote: "You have to howl if you want to find your pack." Wow. It seems I've got some howling to do, and indeed have been howling here and there. This here blog is a howl. It got me thinking about my inner work. Lately, so many why questions have been coming. It's not the kind of irritated, inner-critic-flavored "why", but "why" with a searching, naive, childish, and even compassionate curiosity. "why am I married? why am I doing the work I am doing? why was I born this way?why do I do this, that, whatever....why why why??" It is an inner searching...for personal truth. It is a portal into deep work.
I read Women Who Run With the Wolves in my early 30's. Now that I am in my early 40's, I am going to re-read the whole book. It was so transformative to me then, and will help renew my commitment to doing deep inner work.
It's funny that when you are ready for something, truly ready, when you have made your peace with the not-beautiful and your true desires are nurtured, paths start to clear...people start to emerge...blessings come freer. I feel that for me, I am on the verge of this "clearing".

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanks to all who came out to the festival! I had a fabulous time. I saw so many friends, old and new. I caught up on good news and bad. Yet, when I think of all the things I enjoy most in this life...spinning, gorgeous fall days, people watching in the Highlands...I was blessed to have that all in one place on Saturday. As if that wasn't enough, I got an Award of Merit for my booth! And, I was in the paper! (well, online at least...with my spinning wheel!)
One of the most fun things was watching Davis give himself kisses in the mirror.
Now I'm pooped! It's time to make some things for myself, finish knitting projects...and order more yarn to dye.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Come to the Fair!

I will have a booth at the Belknap Neighborhood Festival this weekend. Stop by and see me!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to make someone fall madly in love with you

Make this:
roast 2-3 butternut squash for about 45 minutes, let cool, peel, scoop out the seeds, and puree with 2 or 3 of your favorite boullion cubes (I like Rapunzel) with water(or use proper vegetable stock...about a quart), one package of cream cheese, about 20 fresh sage leaves (but I like sage) and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a pot, heat gently and serve in mugs. Heaven.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Somewhat new look

Well, I finally drew a header, as you can see. I like it! I think I am going to tinker with the drawing to make it more computer-friendly. It just doesn't come across on the screen like it does on paper....the colors are definitely muted in the scanning.
I'm having an incredibly creative weekend...what joy that is! We mostly stayed home except for a trip to the grocery. Tomorrow is Serena's 6th birthday party. She has requested a surprise party, so we are going to play along and "surprise" her, even though she knows about the party. We will wake up, make her carrot cake, ready the house, cook, and then for her party, we are playing cornhole, hula hooping, having a special birthday circle, and singing "We Are Three Wandering Travelers" at her request. Then we will share a seasonal meal.
I love that all of my children were born in the fall....the most wonderful time of the year, no matter what that Christmas song says :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mindful parenting

It seems this time of year gets so busy we lose our ability to breathe and create rhythm. I know I have certainly been waylaid by sick kids and lots of commitments.
Check this out.
And this.