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New Pillows to Brighten this Snowy Winter

I've been wanting to make a couple of new couch pillows for quite a while now. For as long as I can remember, we've only had one throw pillow, and we are three people... three people who happen to be (expert) loungers, cuddlers, and readers. One pillow divided three ways has not worked for quite sometime, if ever.

Finally, within the slowness of January, I found the time to get going on some pillow sewing. Everything I needed was found right here in the house, meaning I didn't have to put on snow gear and venture out at all for this project! (I am hibernating like you wouldn't believe this winter.)

First, I needed pillow forms. I raided my linen closet and found two standard size bedroom pillows that could be spared. I measured the width of the pillows (20 inches) and cut a bit of length off the top to bring the size of the pillow length closer to the width, making sure to leave enough for seam allowances.

Depending on the fluff and firmness of the pillow, you can decide whether to remove some of the filling or just push it all down inside the remaining pillow. Then, fold the raw edges inside and sew along the open edge, closing up the pillow. I found using a well-filled pillow to be a good idea. Sofa throw pillows see a lot of use, better that they be firm and plump than flimsy and soft.

With the pillow forms done, I paid a visit to my stash and pulled some home dec Denyse Schmidt from the shelves. I cut the fabric wide enough to cover the front of the pillows (with extra for seams), then cut the different patterns into various widths of 2, 3 and 4 inches.

Two hours later, I (and my loungy family) was rewarded with this...

What a way to perk up this crazy winter we've been having.

The pillows were backed with linen, using a fold-over envelope style for easy removal and washing.

Ahh... now if I can only get that man (outside the window) to get down from the roof once in a while to enjoy them. Bungalow's have so. much. roof. - it's a never ending task dealing with the removal of snow and ice this year. It's something we normally don't need to do, but this year seems to have taken over the record books... and the forecast for Tuesday through Wednesday? S n o w!

Last week Emily and Adam were outside playing in the snow. Instead of the usual snow forts and sledding, they just surrendered to what was, and made tunnels.

Tunnels! Not in the snow banks where you might expect, but throughout the backyard! Oh my. As for me, I've made great use of these new pillows... inside, where it's warm.

Wishing you a wonderful Monday (I'm a big fan of Monday).

Do you still have candy canes in your pantry?

Oh people. We are completely buried in snow over here. Two more feet fell yesterday and overnight. Three to four inches per hour at times! Personally, I'm happy about this. To me, if it's winter, let it snow snow snow! But then again I have nowhere to be so that's easy for me to say... I do hope everyone that needs to be out and about takes it slow and easy. It is not a day for rushing.

Yesterday afternoon I felt the usual snow day pull to the kitchen. The warmth, the fragrance, the smiles on my girl and my guy. Love it all.

It occured to me I should do something with those last three candy canes I've been moving around my pantry since Christmas, I really wanted to use them up and not find them (like usual) still sitting on the shelf come Easter, as I'm putting away the chocolate bunnies.

I put google to use and discovered this recipe. Please oh please make this recipe. The candy canes melt when baking and when the cookies cool a minty chewiness remains along with the melted chocolate chips. You will be so happy! The only thing I thought was strange was it didn't call for candy canes, but I swear I can see them in the recipe photo (and my motivating ingredient anyway). So just add some (slightly) crushed candy canes, a few should do it. Such a delightful snow day treat. Everyone in your house will be smiling, I promise.

They're calling for another big storm early next week. Hmm... what to make, what to make...?

Magic and Lustre

I've been waiting for this feeling, for this sort of day. I've come to know patience so well, allowing the requested structure and rhythm provide trust in the process, the experience. She needed that. It occurred to me that because we've honored her wishes (in terms of how she'd like homeschool to flow... very structured for those of you new to our story), the security she needed to find her solid place in it all has been met.

Do you know what this reminds me of? Attachment parenting. And I thought those magical days were behind us. (So nice to see them again.)

I can feel the exhale. The discovery of our evolving groove. Still plenty of structure, but now there is more space to allow (and trust) for spontaneity. Why trust? Because the structure, the foundation is still there to return to, firmly established. There is faith in that. See? Like attachment parenting.

Yesterday, I never wrote our schedule on the white board, and we had a beautiful day as a result! We started the day with (what I call) a little housekeeping schoolwork - vocabulary sentences. Then, Emily and I bundled up from head to toe and walked to her little job. Normally, I don't stay for the two hours, but considering yesterday's single digit (frost bite setting in in 5 minutes!) temps, it was kind of foolish for me to walk the fifteen minutes back home. So, I brought a little artwork and kept busy in one of the other rooms of the house, the massage therapists office. How lovely a place to sit and draw for a couple hours.

The light in the room was soft and warm. I worked on and completed this drawing. Can I tell you how much I love that I'll always have this little room to remember finishing it in? Quite a lot. While the ink flowed, I listened to the scurry of bodies and voices just down the hall.

I listened as Emily assisted a younger child make her own pair of Inuit Snow Goggles. Then, she helped another plan out her drawing of a castle (I think it was actually part of a set design for a play they are performing). It felt like a secret dreamed up place. A perfect spot in the world where children could be children and teachers could be teachers. I felt blessed to be a witness.

I marveled at the wise, experienced woman mentoring one that is up and coming. And in turn, the up and coming mentoring the young and curious. What a cohesive, beautiful thing.

At the end of the morning, we headed out (this time in a car - Adam picked us up between his appointments) and stopped down to the library for a fresh stack of pleasure reading. We walked in just as the librarian was working up a sample of a duct tape rose (for Valentine's Day, of course!). She saw Emily and said "Oh Emily, you're just in time...I'm making a rose for our next workshop... do you like it... what do you think we should do after we all get tired of duct tape projects?"

I love this. This is community, her people, belonging.

Emily and her friends have been making duct tape crafts at the library over the past couple of months. They've had a blast! But, agreed... at some point they will want to gather for another reason. There are limits as to how much duct tape we can bring into our lives.

Emily and the librarian discussed possibilities of a teen advisory committee (to plan library programs and such), a book club, etc. I think an after school Homework Helper (mentor type) program would be great too - our library sees a lot of foot traffic in the after school hours, many children who do not have computers at home come to do their homework.

She and the librarian talked about current favorite books and up and coming authors. Soon enough, a half dozen titles were chosen, final exchanges were made, and we were on our way. Adam dropped us at home and headed off to his next appointment. The remainder of the day for Emily and I did not go according to what I had mentally panned. I intended to begin our next lesson in Civics, Voter's Rights and Responsibilities, but taking a read from Emily who had a slight headache, was cold (did I mention the cold?), and generally just sort of blah, I scrapped the plan and went with an alternative.

She read 100 pages in one of her new books.

I read a couple of chapters from our current read aloud.

She learned to play You Are My Sunshine on the guitar.

We ate popcorn. And made hot cocoa. With fresh whipped cream.

We sat on the couch with blankets and giggled.

She edited some photos. I admired her proficiency with Picnik.

Math was scheduled for later on with Dad.

She went to basketball practice with friends.

I made venison stew, she loved it.

There was no fancy field trip, no formal science lab. Aside from her vocabulary work in the morning, not  a single textbook was cracked. Yet more than once throughout the day I thought, "I love how this day is flowing... this is what I'm talking about.. this is why we're homeschooling."

Today things were back to a more familiar routine. The 'schedule' was written on the white board. We read Rule #9 in Strunk & White (dashes), completed a couple of grammar exercises (punctuating run-on sentences), the Voter's Rights lesson in Civics did begin, we researched our town website learning all about the process for voter registration, absentee voting, etc. Two more chapters were read aloud. In World History we read/discussed the end of The French Revolution. We are waiting on the arrival of some new Science materials, so a bit of a (planned) Science break. She finished sewing a scarf for a friend. Math will be tonight (I am grateful every day to have a smarty pants math guy in the house), along with watching the State of the Union.  On paper, we accomplished a respectable amount of academics today. It sort of looks down right commendable.


However, as I sit here this afternoon and write down these thoughts, I look out the window and see Emily outside in the back yard with a friend. They are sledding or snowboarding, depending on when I glance up. I am so happy she is out there right now, living up the moment, because I've got to tell you, our day today (aside from seeing her outside), with all that we packed in... it doesn't hold a candle to the magic and lustre that was yesterday. 

Maybe I should just write that on the white board tomorrow... magic and lustre.


There will always be plenty of routine and books in my girl's life, probably a white board too. She's orderly that way. It's the freedom to seek and experience the possibility in each day that I feel a responsibility to provide and set the example for. I don't always get it right, I am imperfectly human. But on those days when it all flows beautifully, full of magic and lustre... well, those days are simply worth capturing. 

There's Love in that Basket

Yesterday my family left the house for a few hours, I stayed home. Their destination? Nowhere particularly interesting, they just wanted to give me some time alone to focus on a little writing project I've made a personal commitment to (with a completion date of April 1st - nothing like a self-imposed deadline, eh?). In an effort to save twenty bucks on mediocre food while they were out and about, I packed them this simple basket. Mostly, it wasn't about the twenty bucks, but about the mediocre food they would likely encounter. It's not easy to come by quality, quick food.

I hope they felt the love in this basket... in the sandwiches on homemade bread, the full gallon of fresh popcorn, the sliced fruit and the bit of dark chocolate too. Nothing fancy, but packed by me and sent from home. Which means a whole lot.

(A whole lot of love to be exact.)

Seeking out the Sun


Here is a day,

dawn to dark,

a string of moments small enough to

ignore or notice,

a stretch of time

between awakening

and sleep to be

savored, or brushed

aside in the rush

to some distant

destination. Here

is a day, different

from any other,

with it's own flavor

to be tasted. The

golden glow just

before the sun

rose held such

promises as I

knew must be kept -

knew beyond even

the nagging whisper

of doubt were true -

that this very day

the whole perfection

of the universe can

be inhaled like the

scent of fallen leaves,

the heady fragrance

of trees returning what

was never theirs to keep.

~Danna Faulds

Around here, in between snow and ice storms, there have been precious moments of bright winter sunshine and clear bue skies. Isn't it always like that? Lightness within the dark.

Hazel and Sukha sure know how to seek out and make the most of it.

Wishing you a warm, productive, and cheerful day.

She has a New (Little) Job

As we entered the world of homeschooling this year, there was one thing I was concerned about providing, a strength of Emily's that I wasn't exactly sure how to play to. Emily is a quiet, shy, and reserved person in so many ways. Yet there is a side to her, a gift really, that embodies and exudes leadership. It kind of comes out of nowhere and takes you by surprise because of, well... the whole quiet and reserved aspect to who she is. But it is true. A born leader, she is.

Something very interesting is now happening. One of Emily's former school teachers (1st through 3rd grade) is now homeschooling her eight year old daughter, in town. Willa retired last Spring from the Montessori School to do this. She and Emily have always had a special connection, she 'gets' my girl. Those of you who've had the experience of a teacher 'getting' your child know what a gift this is.

Anyway, Willa decided to put together a program of group homeschool classes, two mornings a week. She rents a few rooms in this sweet little house above (other quiet professionals, like massage therapists, use space there too), and has about 7-8 students each day. The age range of the children is lower elementary (6-9 years). Emily has begun working for Willa one of those mornings, acting as her assistant. The fit is so perfect for her! She has the opportunity to be a helper to Willa, plus a role model and teacher to the children (she is completely familiar with all the Montessori materials, lessons and methods Willa is using). This also makes Emily both responsible for something, and accountable to someone outside of our home. A valuable thing for my quickly growing up girl.

Emily enjoys plenty of team sports each season, and we belonged to a teen homeschool co-op in the fall. Both of those things are wonderfully enriching academic and social experiences... but this little volunteer job offers something unique. Something that I could never duplicate here. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity, not just for the experience, but for the reconnection of a relationship between Emily and Willa that was (and is) so meaningful to our family.

I am continuously amazed at the creative ways in which people/families are taking back their education, and making it happen in a life lasting, meaningful way. My mom sent me this article the other night. It really spoke to me, I loved it.

It Was a Good Day

In the morning everyone was outside, up and down the street, shoveling, snow blowing, playing. There was a car beached in a snow bank at the bottom of the hill. I think the owner just kind of shrugged their shoulders and walked away... to be dealt with later.

With all of the hard work and play of the tremendous snow fall, food was of course thought of and discussed.

"We should all get together later, I think I have the makings for a pot of minestrone."

"Great, I have a couple loaves of bread rising on the stove, I'll bring that."

"Let me bake something, I'm not sure what yet, but it'll have apples in it. I've got some apples inside."

"Do you think there is enough time to cook up  a pot of chickpeas for the soup...?"

"Hmm... well, feel free to stop over and grab some out of my freezer, I have a bunch already cooked."

And so we shoveled, sledded, played, and blew snow around some more. Then, we all went into our warm homes and got busy cooking, mostly with what we had on hand. I got the idea for a few things that I did not have the ingredients in house for, so I called down to the Co-op to see if they were open. Bruce answered the phone (recognized his voice), I told him it was me, "Heather, from up the street." We exchanged a friendly snow day greeting and he indeed confirmed they were closed. Nobody could possibly have gotten there. I suspected this. Bruce had just walked down to take care of a few things, he lives a few doors up from us.

So I let that go, and got busy in the kitchen. Later on, we all gathered, broke bread, sipped wine and got to know some new neighbors just a little bit more. Aren't the simple, casually planned gatherings the best kind?

As I sit here this morning and think about the day yesterday, this little community that is so real and familiar right in front of us, I feel enormously grateful for the ease of it all. I'm also a little frustrated with myself for not thinking of inviting Bruce and his wife to our impromptu soup, bread, and apple cake gathering. Next time I won't be so absent-minded. And I am fully anticipating another day like we had yesterday to come soon. It was perfect in so many ways; forcing a community to stop for one day, to connect with those closest to you, to just be. Snow days really are a gift to be treasured. I'll take as many as Winter would like to give... yes, please.

(For those of you interested in numbers, over two feet of snow fell here. Now that's the kind of snowstorm that forces people to slow down for a day. So good.)

snow day!

Tulips were at the market in abundance the other day, and on sale! There is just something about tulips. Yesterday, we had friends over for a (teen & mama) once a month knitting group that we just started. An easy thing to put together, glad I finally scheduled it and invited people. We had a wonderful time!

I was sure to lay out the "tea station," as I've come to call it. The coffee/water/cider urn was one of the best wedding gifts we received, fifteen years ago. I still find it so useful!

And this morning... a snow day! Even for Adam! Last Christmas my parents gave each of us a set of snowshoes (remember, we were supposed to be living in Vermont this winter, ha!)... today is definitely the day we get to break them in. And seeing as we still live here in the city, I think it's reasonable to say we just might snowshoe down to the cafe for a steaming mug of chai. Bloom where you are planted, right? Well, if I must...

The snow will continue falling into tonight, leaving parts of our small state with three feet of snow. Needless to say, the list of 'busy' that I spoke of the other day just got a whole lot shorter so I thought I'd say hello. Enjoy the day, wherever you are!

passing through

Things are looking pretty busy for the next few days, I'll be back soon.

(He always checks the 'glide' on all drawers when we're out thrifting. It can't be helped.)

Hello Snowy Weekend

picnikfile_41vN4Y Oh my, it is quite pretty out there this morning. More snow is expected later today. We couldn't ask for a prettier weekend. Hope yours is lovely too!