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Hibernate :: Online Retreat

Hibernate 2020 with dates


The weeks leading up to winter solstice are, for many of us, the most reflective and poignant days of the year. The physical work of summer and harvest are behind us, and with our days experiencing more darkness than light, the message is clear: Take a breath, slow down, rest. 

Let's gather together, ready ourselves for winter, and take whatever rest life allows. 

Hibernate is a self-paced, four week, online retreat - a place to celebrate the pause and renewal this time of year brings. We'll linger through the darkest days, welcome stillness and quiet, and allow for time to enjoy home and hearth.

Nourish, gather, renew, create, and rest have long been the guiding themes for Hibernate. This workshop is held on our private website, with new content delivered each Monday-Friday in the form of beautiful ebooklets filled with cozy essays, handcraft tutorials, whole food recipes, and seasonal ideas to enhance your days. In addition, there will be an interactive community to share your photos, ideas, and experience. This is an optional element but quite fun!

You will find the days in a single week thread together with projects and ideas that compliment each other. Starting where you are, and working with what you have, you will pick and choose the projects, prompts, recipes and inspiration that speak to you. There is no need to feel like you must "keep up" or complete all that is offered. 

Hibernate is filled with ideas to help you revel in the beauty of the season. As our bodies slow down, leaving the heightened activity of warmer months behind, our hands welcome meaningful work and our hearts open to the beauty of home.  

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What to expect?

Did you take Hibernate last winter? If so, you may want to pass as this session is mostly last winter's content (with bonuses and plenty of fresh spin, for fun!), offered for those who did not have a chance to participate last year. 

Each weekday you will find new content on our private website, including beautifully designed ebooks filled with recipes, tutorials, prompts and essays, as well as a few videos throughout the course to better support the tutorials. Specifically for soapmaking and candlemaking. Below is a list of what to expect, day to day. 

Settling In :: Citrus & Pine Cleaning Vinegar :: Creating a Sabbath :: Medicinal Bone Broth :: Making Seasonal Flags :: Luxurious at Home Pedicure :: Home-Canned Orange Spice Cranberry Sauce :: Finding Your Pastime :: Building a Home Apothecary :: Bless the Weekend :: Tapered Beeswax Candle Tutorial :: Home-Canned Tomatoes :: Let's Make Soap! :: Seed Organizing, Record Keeping, Garden Planning :: Do Nothing :: Freezer Meal Prep :: Self Care (It Matters) :: Letter Writing :: Knitting Project Bag Tutorial :: In Closing


Bonus Days!

This session is intended to reach those who did not have a chance to participate in last winter's Hibernate. Still, I cannot miss the opportunity to create a few new additions, especially given the inspiring time of year this is being offered. We will have two bonus days of content, plus weekday check-ins from me in our private community. 


Winter Solstice Celebration - Winter solstice is a favorite day of the year for many. For me, it marks the beginning of the new year; a culmination of growth, hopes and dreams, and letting go in order to move forward. A time of  contemplation, sweet release, and rebirth. In our culture this day is not typically celebrated as the significant day that it is, yet so many of us feel called to mark the day with intention. Because it is culturally observed as just another day of the week, it can be challenging to prioritize our own reverence and celebration of this day. It's usually a work and school day, basketball practice still happens, meetings take place, etc. In this new ebook, I will be sharing how our own traditions have developed through the years, and how we came to establish our simple yet meaningful celebration of this day. I'm excited about this new section as it is a topic I am asked about often; it has been fun to pull it all together in a beautiful ebook for your family to enjoy, and hopefully glean inspiration from. 


Wintry Brews - All of my favorite warm, cozy drinks catalogued together in one gorgeous ebook. I've wanted to create this guide for a long time now, and Hibernate feels like just the time to do so. 


Weekday Check-Ins - Seasonal musings, photos, spontaneous recipes and more will be shared in our private community space on weekdays. 

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I look forward to hosting you, welcoming you into my home and heart, sharing projects, and even sharing the stillness of hibernation. 

If you feel ready for the warmth and peace found during this cozy time of year, then please join us.

I'd love to Hibernate with you.

~ Four Weeks ~

Begins November 25th, ends on Winter Solstice. 

Registration is now closed. Thank you!

Billymead, Then and Now

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Cross stitch by Adam's cousin. Billymead is the name of his grandmother's homestead. 

I think we’ll take the window screens out this weekend. I’ve never lived in a house where that was an easy option, but here, it is, and wow how crystal clear the view becomes all winter long. It’s quite beautiful. Until then, a screen-darkened scene beyond the glass tells me that stick season is officially here. Heavy winds have stripped the few remaining leaves from maple and ash. Beech and birch holding on a bit longer. I keep saying that I don’t feel ready for what is to come - six steady months of grey and white - yet with each peel-back of summer’s layers, then autumn's, I feel more and more open to it. Almost eager to see what’s around the corner. It helps that I’ve got my indoor winter craft projects lined up in enticing succession.

I've included a few unrelated foliage photos in this post, even though they were taken two to three weeks ago. I've been without my computer for a couple of weeks, hence my absence here and my need to catch up with pretty photos. It would be a shame to roll right into winter without posting autumn's glory. 

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On our road, heading out for an early Sunday morning drive. 

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Emily, kayaking on Long Pond in Westmore, Vermont. 

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Most of the leaves were gone, but that did nothing to hinder the beauty of this place.

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The rounded formation beyond the treeline is Haystack; it can be seen from our bedroom window, thirty minutes away. 


There is something I have not mentioned, something that does not necessarily need to be shared, but doing so will help to fully tell our story in this new place we call home. Not so much the walls that hold us, but the land that does.

A few weeks before my father passed away, Adam’s grandmother, known to many of you as Grandma June, also passed away, quietly and at home. Her death came one month before her 101st birthday. My reasons for not mentioning it were twofold. One, I knew at the time that my own father’s death was imminent, and how many death notices could I put out into the world at once. Second, there is actually quite a lot about my life that I do not offer publicly, things relating to my husband’s family (and my extended family, and friends, etc) among them. I don’t know, I guess I tend to stick to things that I feel I can claim as my own. I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me wondering if I will write about them. The good or the bad. The wise and wonderful Anne Lamott says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I fully support any writer who adheres to that, but I am too cautious. Granted, most of my interactions at this point in life are positive, still, I choose not to share the majority of my life experiences and observations. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I do not consider myself to be a writer. I self-sensor more than any real writer would. Stick around though, if I’m still at this gig in my eighties, I’ll probably let it all fly. Should be a real hoot.

The short story, if you are new here, is that my husband’s grandparents purchased an old abandoned Vermont farmhouse settled on 100 acres, back in the 1950’s for $350. Maybe it was $300, I can’t recall at the moment. There would be no electricity, plumbing, or phone for the next twenty-plus years, and as other surrounding parcels became available, they scooped those up too, average price being fifty cents per acre. Eventually they were stewards of nearly 400 acres. Over the years, parcels ranging from ten to seventy five acres were divided off for family and for one friend (we’ll get to who that friend is in a minute). One of those lots is where my husband’s parents built a home and where he grew up. Other lots went to his mother's two sisters and brother. Now, a generation later, Adam and I are living on the land and in the house that belonged to one of his aunts. His cousin (also of our generation) now has a bit of land here, too. Feels like the kids are coming home.

Given the close proximity of her adult children, Grandmother June was able to remain in her home all the days of her life, which was her greatest wish. She was even lighting her wood cookstove each morning, well into her late nineties. When she passed, the fabric of life up here changed for many. Adam’s aunt who we purchased our house from, along with her husband, felt it was time to move on to warmer pastures. So here we are.

The part of the story that I’ve wanted to share, and just haven't done so yet, is what became of June’s homestead. Especially as many of you have asked and I’ve mostly avoided the question. Well, it was offered to anyone in the family first, of course. The older generation had no interest, and most of the older cousins live too far away, Adam and I were the likely ones to purchase it if we were interested. It was not an easy decision to come to, but we decided to pass, and went for this house instead. I won’t tell you that we never wonder if that was the correct decision, because we do, often. But June’s house needed a lot of the “big stuff” done to it (turns out this one does too...), and although technically her land does abut the land we already owned, it is divided by a right-of-way driveway to another family member’s home. The two parcels would never quite feel joined up. We felt we should take a pass. The house we wound up purchasing does meet up with the land we already own. It all blends together much more naturally. The other reason we were able to make the decision with ease, is because we knew who the next interested buyer (beyond family) was, and we all rather liked the idea of that person becoming the new steward of Billymead.

I’ve been coming up here since I was nineteen years old, and for all of that time, as far as I can recall, a man named Alan owned a camp on the southern side of the property we now own. I think his parcel is about 25 acres, as is ours, so there is a fair amount of buffer all around. Alan, a professor of eastern religions from Pennsylvania, comes up to camp for one month each summer. His land once belonged to June. He is a wonderful friend to the family, and was especially close with June. He always admired her home, and expressed he would be interested in buying it someday, if it became available. His own (now adult) son told friends, when June passed away, that she was like a grandmother to him. He’d been coming to camp his whole childhood, and had many of his own Billymead adventures and memories.

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The original homestead and its builders. 

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After the front porch was added. The porch remains today. 


The reason I am sharing about Alan, is because it was his ancestors that originally built June’s old 1800’s farmhouse. His fondness was not mere appreciation for a bucolic Vermont farm, rather, it came from a familiarity deep within his own bloodline. If the home was not to stay within Adam’s family, Alan was next in line. So you can see how easy it was to know that if we didn’t feel it was the right place for us, it would indeed land in the hands of the person who likely needed it the most. Alan still comes up for only one month each summer, and he still owns both properties with no desire to sell his camp at this time. He is the kindest person and part-time neighbor, and he invites us to pick apples on his two properties.

In every sense of the word, the house did stay within the family, and we are now bookended on northern and southern sides with a neighbor that is here for only one month out of the year.

I hope this offers a little context about what is going on up here. I’ve been asked several times and have yet to explain. The house has been passed on, but our road name will forever hold June’s name. Alive or in memory, she will be considered the matriarch of this ridge for many years to come.

June 1Adam, Emily, Grandmother June, and a fraction of her German Shepherds.  

One final thought. Over the years, many of you have been curious about Grandma June’s personality and way of life, imaging her to be like Tahsa Tudor. I suppose maybe she was like Tasha in some ways: her ever present pack of dogs, her naturalist ways, her cooking over a wood cookstove, her legendary gardens, her spinning wool... but when I think of June, I think of Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond. Capable and strong, whip smart, sharp sense of humor, a bit proper in her mannerisms but also possessing more grit than most. June had it all, and she lived a remarkable life up here for more than half a century. It’s funny, she was older than me when she moved here, and was given another fifty years to enjoy the place. Can you imagine? What a gift that would be.

Just the Way Autumn Should Be


Rain barreled down as lightening struck the barn late the other night. It’s the second time that’s happened this year, only last time it struck the house and wound up being an expensive hit. After the initial flash subsided, I discovered electrical to the building was fried. Not just out, but fried. Inside the house I comforted an anxiety riddled pup, swaddled in his Thundershirt, listening to the soothing sounds of Don Williams; a combination that is about as good a thunderstorm remedy as I know of.

It was late, and the one thing that felt on my side at the moment was the fact that the temperature was abnormally warm for this time of year, and would continue to rise nearly ten degrees overnight. The dozens of three week old chickens out in the barn would be fine. The three freezers we maintain out there would also be fine. I decided to take my freshly showered self, my dog, and a replay of Don Williams, and go to bed. The rest could wait until morning.



There has been a revolving door of family and neighbors here this week. Tom stopped by to inquire about us signing a community petition to prohibit the passing of law that would allow four-wheelers access on our road; Jessie stopped by to return a couple of dishes that belong to me; Carmen and Mo visited a couple times, once to share a flyer Carmen had picked up for me at the library with information about a “Farming and Foraging in Vermont” lecture taking place on Thursday night. I really wanted to attend, had planned on it since her invitation, but then when Thursday came I couldn’t wrap up the day’s work in time to get there. Too busy foraging and farming!

First round pf apples have been picked, both here and at a neighbor's house, forty jars of apples processed, a few bushels of carrots harvested and prepared for cold storage, dozens of chickens kept alive and thriving. In case you missed the news shared elsewhere, the hatchery mistakenly shipped our order twice, so we have eighty meat birds instead of forty. It’s a lot. We will be sharing the extras with neighbors, but they will all be raised here. Quite an undertaking considering my meat bird experience up to this point is zero. 

The air is perfect right now. Cool and raw and a little bit miserable, just the way autumn should be. Tomorrow promises a bit more sunshine, but I don’t mind the grey skies. It’s hard to feel melancholy this time of year, maybe that’s why the weather can get away with such a gloomy display without anyone minding too much. We’re all just happy to put on some wool and work without breaking a sweat.




Speaking of wool, I found this handknit wool sweater at the thrift store this morning and thought I’d share it here. Wool sweaters are my favorite thing to look for while thrifting, because if a sweater looks good used, it’s likely going to stay looking good with continued use and washing. You don’t get that kind of promise with a brand new sweater. Also picked up a Japanese pottery mug, which is my second favorite thing to look for. There were two actually, but the cashier broke one while ringing me up, so only one came home. I felt a genuine sadness about it, poor thing has travelled around for fifty years and the day it crosses my path, kaput.

The final big task in the garden is to dig the remaining potatoes. It wasn’t the greatest potato year for us, but I think we should have enough to get us through just the same. Hopefully enough for next year's seed, too. I blame gardener error on this one: I’m so used to potatoes being a completely hands-off crop for us, so I kind of ignored the patch for many weeks while I tended to other areas of planting. Then one day we happened to be walking through the potatoes and saw that they were FULL of potato beetles. Pretty awful. We handpicked beetles, eggs, and larvae for days, then handpicked some more, but severe damage had already been done. The plants were quite damaged right at their peak of production, resulting in a noticeable decline in yield. We plant so many potatoes to begin with that we’ll hopefully still manage a fair harvest, but not as much as if we'd noticed the problem sooner. Different region, different challenges. Over the next couple of years as our soil improves I expect we’ll see less of them, but at least now I know to pay better attention. Potatoes are life around here. Gotta have ‘em.



I hope you have a wonderful autumn weekend in your corner of the world. This weekend will be peak foliage for us here, I'll do my best to take some pictures. Thanks for stopping in for a visit, I truly appreciate you taking the time. xo