Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Mail

The mail around here has never been so exciting!!! I just received my spring issue of Living Crafts and my poem is on page 69! I'm published and not just for free on a blog!
They will be posting my knitting pattern for the lamb on their website...I imagine it will be available March 9th, which is the date the magazine is due to arrive on newsstands.
I know this is tall on shameless self-promotion, but man, I am excited!

Friday, February 26, 2010

It is not a sweater, it is a journey

I wasn't always the mother of a college girl. When I dreamed of motherhood, I dreamed of all the nice things about babies, children playing, maybe chatty high school and then gainful employment. Somehow I skipped dreaming about the part where they actually leave home and come back in the summers or on weekends when their boyfriend drives them. Somehow I missed the part about it being a huge transition, and that our relationship would change, and through missing her presence every day, I would get to see her through new eyes. I stand in awe of who she has become, of who she is becoming. It is true, so true, that although you catch glimpses of yourself in who they are, your children belong wholly unto themselves.
I wasn't always a knitter. Oh, I knew how to knit well enough, but I was more in love with sewing and spinning than knitting.  So, I must confess that the knitting passion did not reach me until 2 years ago, while pregnant with Davis. And now, an announcement. (drum roll please)
After 8 years as a handwork teacher, I HAVE MADE MY FIRST SWEATER. Oh yes...I have become a knitter now. This sweater was hard-wrought. I planned it for Brianna. The sweater I ended up making her was not the sweater I started out with. In fact, I cast on for the Wrenna ten days before Christmas, thinking that the bulky yarn and size 17 needles would get me through. I started out knitting a Liesl, beginning in November, which is a respectable time to start a Christmas present. I knitted that to the armholes and realized it would not fit her, but it would fit me, so I set it aside.
Of course, I could barely finish anything the week before Christmas, so it remained unfinished, along with a couple of other unfinished knitting projects. I could not pay attention to it, yet I managed to finish it completely in January. I ripped out the WHOLE THING and started again. Yarn is so forgiving!
I knitted on, determined to make a sweater for this daughter of mine, dreaming into the stitches about her and her life now and who she is.
Last week, I finished. And, I got to take it to her on a weekend where she was the star of the show, where I got to hear how she is finding her voice in her singing, and hear about her standing ovation the night before.
 Every sweater has a story...ask any knitter. This sweater's story is a journey of dreams dreamed and plans planned, of unexpected unravelings, deliberate wanderings,  and alternate endings. It all works out in the end.

Isn't she cute?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Easy Recipe

This has become one of our favorite recipes around here.
Most weeks start with a pot of beans soaking and a pot of rice cooking, and our meals are centered around or accessorized by those staples.

Black Bean Soup
Black beans, soaked and cooked
A jar of your favorite organic salsa
Red pepper, carrots, onion, or other vegetables you might have.
A generous tablespoon or two of South River miso (Red Pepper/Garlic works great)
Saute the onions, red peppers, and carrots until just undercooked.
Combine the beans, vegetables, and salsa, adding water as needed. Simmer for about 20 minutes. At the end of the heating, add in the miso. It helps if the miso is thinned in a little water, but you can stir it into the soup as well. Salt and pepper to taste.
That's it! It's  incredibly delicious.
Go here for a good cornbread recipe to serve with it. My mamaw made cornbread like that, only our cornbread was not sweet. She just used Martha White self-rising cornmeal, bacon grease, and buttermilk, sometimes onions, and baked it in an incredibly seasoned, greasy iron skillet. Yum.
As a vegetarian, I don't think my iron skillets are going to be seasoned quite like hers was, or my mother's are.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Report

I posted this on Tuesday, and deleted it, accidentally. I had only meant to take it down...I was feeling like I needed to bring a different consciousness to my blog and focus only on craft. But part of the reason I started this blog was to bring learning on relationships, too. That is just as, if not more, important to me. So, please bear with me, and I will purpose to be less insecure! Now it is back in Tuesday's spot.

Well, I must say that February has officially landed in my soul. I thought this year I was somehow, mystically conferred immunity to the State of February, but no such luck. It's here. All I can say is "blech." Some kind of haze descended on me. I left school today, without my daughter (luckily, her dad pitched in and picked her up, albeit slightly late) I forgot my daughter! I have taken every opportunity I could to deprecate myself, and have sweated over what to write and not write on this blog. Sometimes I feel like I need a blog support group to help me answer all my questions. Other little niggly things have added up to make this quite a day.

But, I have been reading "Simplicity Parenting" and I love everything the author has to say. I love how he combines what I've learned in therapy, readings about trauma, and things I've learned through my exposure to Waldorf education. The trauma piece is especially meaningful to me, because I believe our society, in general, treats emotional trauma the way it treats a woman who has just undergone an unwanted Cesarean. She is told, "Oh, thank God, you have a healthy baby" and sent on her way, giving no thought to her feelings or need to process the event, necessary or not. I think it is our tendency as humans to overlook, sugar coat, deny, diminish, and otherwise avoid emotionally painful events. However, I truly believe a hallmark of health is not in how much you can avoid trauma, but in how exactly you-as a family system- handle these experiences. Because trauma is inevitable in's life experiences can include disappointment, death, change, outright abuse...the wars at home, addiction. These can be moved through and healed from, giving voice to the power of forgiveness. How can we practice forgiveness if we ignore what is there? By the way, I myself have no idea how to do that. I make it up as I go along, and just keep trying to be kind and have my higher self in mind.
Oh, I forgot to say in the original post how Kim John Payne refers to parenting as "everyday heroism", and idea I especially love :)
Anyway, the other book I wanted to praise is 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage. You can find parenting wisdom even, and I would say, especially in a marriage book. While this book is chock full of useful tools, the part on anger is fantastic. The authors maintain that anger is logical and purposeful. Three things I learned that have helped me so far: that anger is experienced on the logical left side of the brain, and actually helps us act and engage in the world. So anger can be a positive motivator. The second thing I took to heart was that anger is often bourne of injustice and a frustration with blocked goals. The third thing I learned is that merely venting, even in a journal, can keep you stuck in anger. The way to get your anger un-stuck is have an empathetic, understanding listener.
Anger is such a huge needs to delve deep to uncover those learned beliefs about anger. This anger passage helped me today. Serena is experiencing her little brother's exploring, and wants to hide all her toys from him. I would not let her hide all her toys from him and tried to help her pick out toys he could play with. She insisted, through yelling at me and kicking me, that her toys all needed to be put out of reach. I eventually carried her to her room to have a little rest, and only said in my mind as she was kicking me (which makes me mad) "blocked desire....blocked desire.." I do understand it is hard for her to share her things all of a sudden.
At any rate, the book helped me handle this situation with a calm resolve I wouldn't have had otherwise. It also said to focus on your needs in the moment rather than your partner's faults. I think the same could be said for the way we relate to our children....only we don't speak those needs the same way we would to a spouse, of course. Sometimes we speak those needs to ourselves and take care of ourselves in the moment.
Now here's an idea....send yourself to your room. Put yourself in time-out. Go be grounded for awhile. Yes!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Power of Metaphor

Metaphor serves as a wonderful tool for parenting. Through giving ourselves word pictures, we can parent from a creative, meaningful place. I am always trying to find pictures for myself to "live" into, and the pictures that come to me can help with observing my children, and also my self-observation. I love being ableto give myself a positive, realistic picture when I am struggling with a parenting issue. Or any relationship issue, really. The power of metaphor is the power of story itself, and speaks to parts of us that direct words cannot reach. If it is helpful for me, surely it would be helpful for others, and hence, the invitation went out to those who read this blog, or whose lives have touched mine somehow in the virtual sphere.
I so deeply appreciate those who chose to participate in this project...any art you do like this can feel vulnerable. Thank you, thank you! Gratitude for the inspiration...
 Without further adieu, here is the beautiful poem:

I am the nourishing earth in which you, the acorn, are beginning to show signs of becoming a great being.

I am the supple Aspen tree, rooted in the earth, swaying gracefully through even the strongest of winds. My leaves dance and shimmer with the laughing caress of a breeze; my strong branches reach for the sky and support you...climbing ever higher.

I am the elephant. My children have a hold of my tail and I am slowly leading them along.

I am a mother bear, soft and beckoning, strong and fierce, a warm place for cubs to snuggle into.

I am a tour guide in your life, leading you to the opening crack of a new book, the surprise of finding a fossil, the bliss of feeling the wind in your hair. Taking you behind the scenes of our family relationships, exploring the world with you and widening your circle of understanding.

I am a lioness, roaring lonely, painful cries through the African Savannah. I am a lioness, roaring to protect her young from predators.

I am the river flowing on a some times peaceful and some times chaotic journey through life/motherhood.

We ride the waves together, feel the breeze blow through each of us, soak up rays of sunshine over all of us, we grow together.

Let me be your prism... shine your bright white light...see paths of many colors... all of them bright. You have chosen your journey and you are the light.

Various contributors, 2/2010

*****update***** I have added this as a page. If you would like to contribute, jump right in! Go to the page above and follow the directions. No pretenses here, you don't have to be an expert wordsmith....quite the contrary! Your voice is welcome!
Maybe others will feel inspired to contribute, and the poem will change. Maybe it will stand as it is now. Either way is fine :) Warmly, Angie

Friday, February 19, 2010

Felted Necklaces

Start with "jewels". We call them jewels, anyhow. You could also use any smooth, flat rock.
Begins wrapping the jewels with tufts of wool.
Keep wrapping.
Add another layer in another color.

A few wrapped jewels.
Now wet it, soap it....
Rub it, gently at first, using fingertips, and then with your whole hand. Feel it, go slow.
Massage them until they are firm.
Cut a hole and use thread to gather the edges.
Thread thick cord or elastic cording through a big-eye tapestry needle and wiggle it through the top, like so.
Tie up the ends, embellish with thread or beads(optional), and wear your felted necklace.
Felted stone pendant, embellished with beads. It reminds me of a geode.
Want to make one yourself? Great! Send me a picture...
Don't want to make one? Sweet! I might just have some in my Etsy shop....
These make great nursing necklaces!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Three Ingredients

(Before I begin, I want to express my gratitude to those of you who are participating in my little poetry project. Anything one sets out to create, especially within the format of a group, becomes what it is supposed to become without any further direction from its originator. What an absolutely beautiful process.)
I am a cookie monster. I am. There, I've said it.
I make cookies when I am stressed. I make cookies when I am not. I make cookies out of habit. I just make cookies. There is nothing more therapeutic for me than throwing a bunch of different ingredients in a bowl, seeing how healthy I can make them, and then baking them. Always a surprise. No recipes...just me, walking the tightrope of baking without a net. Thrill-chasing, really.
Anyway, I have stumbled upon a few combinations that are actually pretty good, so I thought I would sharea couple of them here. Only a couple because I can't remember all of them. The little challenge I give myself is to only use 3 ingredients, in the spirit of simplicity.
I give you:
Almond cookies
Put in a food processor: a couple handfuls of almonds, some oats OR rice flour. Pulse until it is crumbly. Drizzle in barley malt syrup, stir by hand or keep the processor running, until it looks like cookie dough.
Drop by spoonfuls and bake at 350 but watch them because barley malt causes quick burning.
Sunny Honey Cookies (I've posted these before)
honey, sunflower seeds pureed to a nice butter, oats or oat flour added until you have a cookie dough.
Actually, you could put in any nut, a sweetener, and a flour. Or chocolate instead of flour. Or make it 4 ingredients and add spices.
Cooking for stress....when I was working full time, (I'm part time now, technically speaking) I would come home after a long day and often the first thing I would do after all the reunitings was chop vegetables. We are a very Moosewood-inspired family and start most meals with onions and garlic sauteeing in a pan.
With a baby who is relentlessly exploring and needing me right now, it is difficult to find time to center and quiet myself around a chopping board. Cookies are easier.
Good thing he likes cookies too!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Metaphor Project

This is a little metaphor poem I've done at Blessingways, in parent-child classes, similar in face to something we did at faculty meetings years ago, something I've done whenever I could. I love the idea of creating together, of group art. I only just thought of using the power of the internet and fellow bloggers to truly create something together, using this process. So, here is the metaphor process for you to engage in....a chance to write together for mutual edification....a chance to create something engage in community.
While answering these questions, don't necessarily skim, but don't take time to think it right out of the realm of intuition either. Intuition is where we form the best inner pictures. Keep it flowing. At the end, when you have a reply, leave it in the comments. I am going to ask that you do so anonymously, in the spirit of oneness. However, leave your name on if you wish.
Take a moment to think of yourself as a mother (a parent). What are things you feel come easily to you? what do you wish were different about your relationship(s) to your children? What skills do you possess? Which ones are you learning or wish you could learn? What sorts of emotions do you feel in the presence of your child...about yourself...about your child?
Now, you may write these answers down.  Pinpoint one area of strength/weakness/emotion/skill and hold that in your hand for now. Take yet another moment and write down the first image from the natural world that comes to you....animal, plant, stone, element....whatever it is, hold it in your mind as a picture. What is it doing?
Now, make your statement as follows.  Starting with  "I", share your parenting insight in the form of a metaphor, using your picture from the natural world. If you want to start as a tree that is ok too....I just realized you don't have to start with "I". The idea is to create a series of  affirmative metaphors that we can share, collect into poem form, and draw on the strength of mutual experience. The whole poem could be an affirmation, and offer a sense of belonging for all parents.
I will begin and share mine. I was feeling overwhelmed and the first picture that came to my mind was that of a starfish clinging to a rock that is being washed gently in an ocean outlet. So, my statement (as of today, anyway!)would be:
I am the stone the starfish clings to as we are washed and rocked gently by the tide.
Is that clear as mud? Please email me ( if you have questions but still want to participate!
I warmly invite you to participate, and the collective responses will be posted as a poem next Monday.
I just opened up the anonymous "feature" so you can comment anonymously.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Check this out

Beth at Acorn Pies has a sweet giveaway! go....enter!
And stop by here (me-my blog) on Monday....I have an invitation for all the mothers out there.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Well, there has been a lot of creating happening around here. Still. Lest you think otherwise, I still have a wakeful baby, arguments with my husband, and the occasional meal out of a isn't all making stuff and singing cheerfully through our day like Julie Andrews. However, because I believe play is sacred and absolutely essential for children, I am going about celebrating my own adult playing. Children intuitively know how to's how they make sense of the world. And, children imitate what they see, the very gestures they experience in the adults around them go deep into their beings. How enriching for them if the adults in their life know/learn how to/re-learn/ re-member how to play. Then they have a context for their life's art.
This play is so deeply healing for me. I do not take you for granted, dear reader, and truly appreciate the space I have here to share.
And on with mom, who is an incredibly generous person, is warm, funny, and works at a nursing home as a hairdresser. I keep telling her she needs to write a book. Anyway, my generous mother got me some very cool gifts for Christmas, among them this book:

This book is so inspiring and energetic. I want to make everything in it. Before tackling the big projects, I made flowers. They start out as felted disks with a slit cut into them.
Then you roll them up and fashion flowers from them.

I'll be making more felt from this book for sure.
And, I've been knitting away, working on animal patterns for a planned e-book. I wanted to make lovebirds with lacy wings and tails, but just could not get the wings quite right. So, off with the wings; they keep their lacy tails, and went off to Serena's kindergarten teachers as a Valentine's Day gift. I have most of the pattern written out, and it only needs a teeny bit of tweaking.
Have a happy weekend! May you find love in unexpected places.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Last night, I read this in Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann (how wonderful to have a kntting book one can read and not feel guilty about not making anything):

"But unvented-ahhh! One un-vents something; one unearths it; one digs it up, one runs it down in whatever recesses of the eternal consciousness it has gone to ground. I very much doubt anything is really new when one works in the prehistoric medium of wool with needles. The products of science and technology may be new, and some of them are quite horrid, but knitting? In knitting there are ancient possibilities; the earth is enriched with the dust of the millions of knitters who have held wool and needles since the beginning of sheep. Seamless sweaters and one-row buttonholes; knitted hems and phoney seams-it is unthinkable that these have, in mankind's history, remained undiscovered and unknitted. One likes to believe that there is a memory in the fingers; memory undeveloped, but still alive."

Wow! I just LOVE this! Memory in the fingers....going wayyy back...memory in the voice, memory in the painting consciousness, memory in the dancing body...archetypal, primal knowing.
I have unearthing to do...with my hands, my mind, my heart, my voice, my being.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just another snow day

What do you do when you wake up to this?

Squeal with glee and bundle up yourself and the kids (25 minutes) and take them on a sled ride around the yard (5 minutes).

Seeing those two on the sled like that just makes my heart sing. I could eat them up!
Then, you come in and start creating! Well, at least I do. And it's only 8 a.m.! Clearly, your hostess has had enough coffee already and it is time to stop.
It feels like a good day to finish up projects, so that is what I settle in to do. There is always the Valentine's day quandary to settle. What kind of valentines to make? This year, I was not lazy. Other years, yes. But this year, I had Serena paint on muslin instead of on watercolor paper.

Fabric was cut into hearts, I finished sewing the felt backings on this morning, and later we are going to stuff them with flax seeds and lavender.

A watercolor healing heart! If you've not seen these, they can be frozen or heated depending on the need. The colors are soothing, the smell is soothing. They are like the eye pillows you get at yoga class. Each child in Serena's class will get a healing heart, made with a little bit of both of us in it. They will last a long time and the project is a nice collaboration between parent and child. (a side note: for this project, I used cheap watercolors. The colors dried a lighter color, and are just what we wanted. See this post for more information about fabric painting with children.)
Next, I decorated. Yes! I did!  Last night, I made a heart garland and today I put it on the mantle. People assume that if one can draw a picture, one can surely decorate a house. Phhhtttt. That doesn't apply to me. I do try, but it just isn't my area of strength. I admire people who have a knack for putting together their homes. Nonetheless, I love this heart garland.

The garland was stitched on the sewing machine...cotton cord sandwiched between burlap and calico hearts.
Next, on to the smocking pleater. What a wonderful invention! This is a smocking pleater:

When you thread those needles, and turn the fabric by hand through the machine, the fabric is perfectly pleated and prepared for smocking.

See? Perfectly pleated, except I broke on of the needles and one row did not get pleated. But, no matter, I am creative enough to make it work anyway.
I have this dress in mind for Serena:

 And this for Davis, with long pants. Because just maybe, I will actually complete my Easter sewing before Easter.
Just for fun (wait a minute, isn't this whole blog just for fun?) here is a picture Serena drew. She asked me to put it on my blog. (One consequence of blogging for all of January is that my blog became part of everyday conversation in our house. "How's the blog going?" "What did you write on your blog today?" Ack! Does that mean I'm a "real" blogger now?)
You have to see this though. She drew around a face I had drawn (you can barely see it).
Marvelous, eh?
Cheers for snow days!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Making Love

I would like to, in this week leading up to Valentine's Day, reclaim the meaning of the phrase "making love". Somewhere along the way it became a lovely way to describe sexual relations. But can't we make love in any situation? Don't we have the ability to conjure up feelings of warmth and goodwill in any moment? Can we agree that making love is much more than a physical act? We are making love when we send off a check with gratitude in our hearts. We make love when we smile at the clerk who looks like he is having a bad day. We make love when we smell the tops of our babies' heads, and never stop loving that smell even as they grow. We make love when our partner comes home grumpy, and we give him (or her) a hug. We make love when we really, really want to respond with irritation in our voices when we patiently answer the same question we've already been asked....over and over. Or whatever trigger du jour has come upon us...we make love when we leave the room before we say something unkind. I see people making love all the time. People will often stop to help a driver whose car has been broken down. There is a mother in parent-child class who lovingly carries her toddler and a bag of dozens of eggs from her own chickens every week to class (well, when the chickens lay!) She shares all those eggs with us. I have so many stories of instances where love has been passed along, both witnessed and experienced.
I have a friend who told me that the way to feel in love with someone is to act like you are in love with them. Somehow, doing the deed helps create the feeling. I just love that, and when I remember to, I can even act the part accordingly. I don't have to feel in love to be in the state of takes the love I give to a place outside of myself and my own self-pity and a place where I am reminded of the gifts I have in my children, my husband, my family, my friends, the people whose circles touch mine.
Group hug, anyone? (sorry...I couldn't resist! A little loving humor....we can just smell a baby's head instead!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finding Your Voice

Do you ever have the memory of falling asleep to the dim, dreamy hum of adult voices? Sometimes the hum was comforting, other times it kept you awake with its worrisome din. Have you ever raised your voice in anger, or pitched it with righteous indignation? Was there ever a time in your life where you kept your voice as girlish and non-threatening as possible?
Our voices bear great power. If you will, we "paint" with our voices, setting a mood for our intents and purposes. I am reminded of this power when I walk into a classroom of children, all talking loudly. If I speak loudly in an attempt to settle them, their volume begins to rise to match mine. If I, with complete inner resolve, begin to quietly recite a story, a listening hush falls over the class. The same with my own children. The more emotional and out-of-control my tone of voice goes, the more theirs matches.
As a parent, we can indeed use the tone and timbre of our voices to communicate our wishes to our children, to offer comfort and invite dialogue, to save their lives, to bear acceptance. Our children can also tell when we "mean it" and when we don't. Parenting With Spirit calls this voice "the voice of God."
When I taught voice lessons, I worked with students on two things: breathing from your belly and then "connecting" that to your singing voice, and "singing from the heart", meaning singing with the feeling of free shoulders and an open chest. We do connect vocalization to our belly all the time, as is the case with a belly laugh, or a loud "Hey!" to stop a toddler from crossing the street.
The same goes for speaking from your heart...with loving resolve, connected to your "gut feelings" if you will.
I leave you with "Waking The Witch" from Kate Bush. Listen to those voices at the beginning....Oh, the pictures we paint with our voices...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A New Hat!

Teens today. They are so funny. I do enjoy my teens, enjoy thoughtful dialogues with them, their sense of fun and drama, hearing their hopes and plans for themselves and the world, and good-humored hassling. I have always felt that I seldom see my teens....that once they enter high school, you have handed them over to friends and extracurricular activities. Which is why it is all too important to be their "rock" then and really hold good boundaries.
Teen behavior is quite a funny thing too. On Facebook, my daughter is "married" to her friend and has listed all her best friends as her siblings. And then there is the something I find especially funny, and that is, the way they take pictures. They take pictures of themselves, or of themselves with their friends, tongues hanging out, or of themselves in "Vogue" modeling stances. They are you remember yourself as a teen? We had Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, a young Madonna, Commodore 64, and no knowledge about the world without TV. They have Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Taylor Swift, and no knowledge of the world without the internet and cell phones. It's interesting to think of the culture our children are raised in, eh?
I definitely strayed, because really, the purpose of this post was to show the  new hat I made  for myself. And took yet another picture (or two) of myself in said hat. I guess you could say I "Vogued" like my teenaged girls do. I hope to get the pattern up on Waldorf Handwork this week, since it is a variation of the hat I have 5th graders knit.