Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pinks and Reds!

Lis brought us a bit of her Rose Petal Sorbet yesterday. It's pretty much like tasting fairy nectar, and is gorgeous to boot. Later, she offered me as many roses as I wanted from her beautiful garden so I could make some of my own! So in between trays of frozen strawberries, making shortcakes, etc. I whizzed up some petals, a little sugar, and lemon juice and froze it for later.
Here is what my sink looked like after plucking and washing those blossoms, above.

Strawberry Day was yesterday for us also, at lovely Sand Hill Farm in Somerville, Maine. Organic You-Pick berries, sweet people (the most important rule of the farm is: you have to leave with a red mouth), AMAZING and abundant berries (our favorite variety: Early Glow). As a bonus, we even had a sighting of one of our favorite 3 year-olds: trickles of red juice rolling over her yummy bare belly!
And yet how did I forget that while picking three flats is great fun and so easy, processing three flats makes for a long rest of the day...Now we have 10 gallon bags of Red Gold in our freezer!

Oh Erna, this red and pink post is for you!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gorgeous is Everywhere

Marcia's Amazing Rhubarb Custard Pie, with gorgeous crust!

June Babies
We know a lot of June babies around here, some of our favorite folks in fact. Well, two June Babies sent out lovely requests for Birthday Mail. One of these friends was our own Robinsunne, who asked for emails and in exchange would mail out some ATCs that she featured in this post. Check out these gorgeous cards! She received wishes from all over the world...and I just received my special card:
More Inspiration...
I happened upon this book, new at our library:

Visual Chronicles: The No Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos, and Altered Books
by sisters Linda Woods and Karen Dinino, is a treat! Check out their website, also for their other publications and blog. So many wonderful ideas for how to make art daily, terrific art prompts (for when you think you have nothing to say), encouragement, and inspiration. Again, the authors remind us that you don't need lots of fancy stuff, mostly you probably have what you need to get started around your house already...I love that. They have some great ways to think about creating backgrounds in advance, creating little books of prompts for yourself (so you'll never have to spend too much time wondering what to make), and tips for how to get right to the heart of your Artful Self. This volume may be one that I "have" to own.

So I seized a moment this morning to make some ATCs, inspired by these crafty ladies. The kids were busily involved with PlayMobil, the laundry could wait, and so could the dishes and email.

This one, above, is untitled, as yet.
"Fly in the face of convention."

Some of Our Favorite Book Villains are Named Simon
Small drawing by Jonas (9.5 years old), entitled "Simon." I love Simon's villainous overbite! And how about that fancy sceptre?

PS Apologies for inconsistent font today, blogspot is vexing me.
PPS In case you missed it, here's a link for an article that features me and my terrific co-workers at the Rockport Public Library.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Couture Knitting...and Chickens

Morning drink of water with Mama Sharon.
...Now Mama has wandered off with a few Peeps, and these are still slaking their thirst, before realizing the panic (loud peeps, skittering fluffing, a few wing flaps on their way to catch her up) of Mama-less-ness.

It all began with the Rowan Knitting Magazine, which is full of highly stylized photo layouts, featuring knitwear designs that are tres chic (in a fashion runway-sort of way). There's something that always amuses me about this publication, perhaps the seriousness with which they seem to take themselves...and gets me creating a running commentary in my head of the circumstances by which these attractive waifs in their kilts, ball gowns, and heavy eye-makeup came to find themselves in the English countryside. Like, how came the gothic, sulky anorexic with teased hair to be draped against the manor gates? Was there a sudden wind storm that blew her in from London? (This is most fun to do when browsing with my knitting beloveds, on the shores of scenic Moosehead Lake!)

So while browsing a knitting catalog recently, I jumped on the Rowan photos. Notice below, that there are very purposeful holes created in the sweater, on the fellow's right shoulder:
The text at left reads: "Damien was resigned to the fact that, even in the rural English countryside, he was beset by besotted and admiring females who frequently rent his designer knitwear."

And here we have Bess:
The tiny little writing (size .02 Micron, my favorite precious, Mom Only please, pen) reads: "'Oh drat,' thought Bess. Her mother's penchant for designer and embellished handknits had resulted in the seafoam tank top, which featured unfortunately placed areola-like accents. One seemed to hover by her left armpit."

Happy Weekend and Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wool Socks Are Still Useful in June, in Maine

...Oh, the Lovely-ness of a rainy garden in summer!
These are some of Joanie's Japanese Irises, that I pretty much wish I could eat with a spoon. Don't you just picture them on Kimono fabric?

Knitting News: Completion...and Beginning!
I finally finished my socks! If you can remember way back to February when I first showed you them in progress (and later in an update), with birthday yarn by Noro! Hooray! It's been chilly and damp here this week, perfect for wearing these lovelies around.

I used the Two-at-a-Time method on one very long circular needle...which means that the socks are both done (only 5 months later) and I don't have to face the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome! And to be fair, I was also a little busy with other things this spring, so not consumed by a passion to finish.

But the passion to finish did get to me when I found my next project, funny how that works. I happened to be passing by a yarn store that is going out of business and I went in, foolishly thinking that I could leave the store with maybe one small ball of cotton yarn for a face cloth. But I happened upon five balls of Rowan Kid Silk Haze (70% kid mohair, 30% silk) in a lovely raspberry... 50% off! And I had recently admired a very sweet little feminine summery sweater on a friend who directed me to this pattern in Interweave Knits (Winter 2004), which I even already own! (Oh, the serendipity of it all!)
Now you can see, from the edging I am working on below, that it is a much airier look than the photo:
It looks so nice in person! My friend made hers lacey like this and in a beautiful orange...And as for buttons: I'm thinking just one very delicate button at the top.

And my boys are leaving tomorrow for a few days...Me, I will be here enjoying a house that gets to stay clean, knitting a lot, working at the library on Saturday (hosting BookLovers' Cafe at 10:00-11:30 with my homemade muffins and scones, tea and coffee for all participants), and going to a bonfire for St. Johnstide on Sunday!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amazing Gifts

Sharon and Peeps, nesting for the night in the egg box. Do you love the little head peeking out from her wing? They are so fast now, photo-taking is a challenge.

ATC News: Treasures from Away!
Some little treasures have come my way recently! At long last, Carrie of Pink Crow Studio, sent me this ATC (along with the necklace she made me almost ten years ago, and finally needed a new clasp), hand colored and with moveable parts.
The quote reads: "To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings." ---Rosabeth Mos Kanter. Certainly true for me, on the toes of my Taking Forever Socks That I am Bored With, and already eyeballing my next project!
That girl still knows what I like. And since she was also an ATC Comment Giveaway winner, a little something is coming back her way also...I have pictures but I don't want to spoil the surprise.

And Tricia, from way back in art school (now librarian extraordinaire) sent me this one, and she tried going USPS with the card as is, in all it's tiny glory! So this is the back, postmarked and everything:
It did arrive, though the postal people seemed a little grumpy it was not a standard size and put it in a new envelope.
I am sorry to say that the photo does not do justice to the subtlety of this ATC. There is a dreamy quality to it in person:
In baking news...
A freeform blueberry pie, diving into our last bag of frozen Maine blueberries from the stash of 40 pounds that we started out with last August! I kind of threw it together, but the crust is Martha Stewarts' recipe, dusted with a little cinnamon sugar:

Blueberry season last year was heralded by an unprecedented Blueberry Feast that we shared with our foodie friends Matt and Susan, from NYC: Chilled Blueberry Merlot soup, Crabcakes with Blueberry Salsa, Salad, and Blueberries and Cream for dessert. We were fully antioxidized that day.

In sporting news...
Tee Ball season has come to an end! Is this a picture of summer or what?
And my boy, avec his trophy (the baseball spins on the axis, Sylvan would like you to know):
It's drizzly and cozy here today, perfect for staying in my pajamas all day long.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Summer Vacation

Two proud boys in their Red Sox shirts, displaying handwork

Inspiration has come lately in the form of a book by Portland blogger Amanda Blake Soule called The Creative Family. A fabulous resource for parents, I am thinking of this as a great new parent gift and have already recommended it to our Ashwood Waldorf School kindergarten teachers. Soule is a homeschooling-artist-mama with some Waldorf inclinations, and offers lots of encouragement for the idea that creative time as a family is time well spent. Let your children see you being creative, see you striving with a new project, sit down and draw together, take an art to-go bag with you on your travels about town, and let the laundry wait! Soule's writing is clear and comes to the heart of the issues that we face as artists and parents, the project ideas are accessible and well-described, the photos are beautiful, and her blog is wonderful as well.

Soule suggests keeping art supplies handy to where your family hangs out. Well, duh, of course this makes sense! So this inspired a little redo in my kitchen. My boys eat (a lot, many meals large and small every day...ah, summer) at a kitchen bar on two stools. I spend a lot of my time on the other side of the counter, using that same space to prepare food. I bought a little rack to hold fresh, clean white paper, with two shelves above (one for each boy) to hold works in progress. Add some new markers and pens, a bunch of sharp (!) pencils, colored pencils, and cups to put it all in, and voila---supplies at the ready!
Same picture, including some very tame counter clutter:
Here's Sylvan working on sewing a little pillow that he drew, a project idea from the book:
If you are heavily into representation, let me tell you that it depicts a sky (here, at the bottom) at sunset, two mountains with a gnome in between.

In other sewing news, Jonas brought home his knitted doll, named Nicko (after a character in the series that begins with Magyk).
Nicko needed some clothes and I am novice enough as a seamstress that I found it challenging; Jonas was mostly patient. But today, thankfully, Jonas spent the day with his crafty friend Ella who can zip things out on her sewing machine like wild! Jonas's hands at work on some trousers:
So if you're looking for some crafting, lifestyle, and family inspiration to help you through the summer...check out Amanda's book!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Big Week for Performance!

This week there must be something in the stars about our family in the spotlight...Monday was Sylvan's Bridge Crossing (into Summerland), today was the Grade School Assembly in which my hubby the teacher got up there with his students, as well as Jonas performing with his 3rd grade class.
Over the Bridge!

And while they were busy with their Assembly today, I was in my professional role as library assistant, presenting at the 12th annual Public Library Directors Conference (for Maine library directors) about some of the creative programming we have been doing at the library in Rockport. (And while I was sad to miss my two bigs boys on stage, I was delighted to miss the 8 hours of socializing that usually follows this event!) I spoke about the very successful Out of Bounds Altered Books Exhibit that we sponsored last November, as well as the chronology of our ATC Make-and-Swap group which you have all been reading about here. I had a lovely PowerPoint show with some of the great images from both groups. The hardest part was only having 15 minutes to cover all of this great stuff! I was able to plug Robinsunne's upcoming book about ATC groups in your library---how to do it and what to do, as well as the consultation services she is offering to libraries! It was really a pleasure to be at the conference sharing these ideas with other librarians in Maine, and I am so honored to have been invited!

"The Pit" by Paul Campbell (a high school student), from the Out of Bounds Altered Books Exhibit

In other performance news...
This Saturday I will be singing with a chorus of 110 singers, The Midcoast Community Chorus, at a concert that will benefit a local nonprofit agency, the Midcoast HealthNet. These folks offer clinic hours to members of our community that have little or no healthcare. The music is inspiring and uplifting, spirited and spiritual, and under the direction of Mimi Bornstein we are singing from our hearts for our community. We'll be at the Strom Auditorium in Camden at 7 p.m. on June 14th. Read more about how to get tickets here...Buy them soon, we expect to sell out!

Peep Report: MORE News Coming Soon
Are you wondering how our Peeps are? It's been a little crazy, can you tell? But I promise to have some new photos of them very soon. They are happy and well, getting their bottoms and necks now, plus lots of feathers. Last night Jake couldn't find them when he went to shut them inside. Sharon had them in the little-used Upstairs Nesting Box (we have two apple crates mounted on the wall for our boxes, the chickens prefer Downstairs); this means all of the Peeps managed to fly up there!

Goodnight, Peeps.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


"...Then the Peeps!"

Abundance is a nicer way of saying "too-muchness," which is often how I feel during this time of the year. So in the midst of the Abundant Happenings around here, I took a breather this morning and spent it with Kimberly making ATCs together. The morning that began with me feeling resentful and supremely put-out was transformed into a laughter-filled moment of grace and friendship. Imagine that! As soon as I shifted into the present moment I wasn't able to hang onto my irritation! We munched on her daughter's homemade raw (and totally delicious) chocolate, nibbled at grapes, radishes, and other tasty things while we chatted and managed to produce some lovely cards. So I felt the abundance of being with a good friend sharing our thoughts and creativity together. Here's Kimberly's card for me:
She picked out the card of the feet that I made, pictured in this post, that says: "I'm not your guru, you are." Of course it was perfect because I was thinking of her when I made it!

I took the stamp that I carved at our ATC Make and Swap Group last week and printed it on a crumply paper bag. Then I made a series of three cards with that as a background. I found that I fell in love with using my Prismacolor pencils to fill in the spaces inside the rectangular forms. The original stamp is 1x1 inch, so I kept turning it and repeating it.
"Glow...You'll Need Light:"
"Creating a Shared Intention:""The Benefits of Chanting:"And finally, a card about the beauty of lemons, "Tart Counterpoint:"

Sylvan's Showcase
Here are some of the watercolor paintings that Sylvan brought home today. They came in this large folder, also painted and constructed by Sylvan:

His favorite is this Green one, in which he "made the green myself:"

I like this one, it's the manger where Mary had baby Jesus. The blue light coming from the left side is Mary:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Treasures from across the Sea
Erna, of Blij als Mij, sent me a few of her handmade items! I have enjoyed reading her blog and sent a few ATCs her way, in thanks for the inspiration. Erna has a shop that you can visit---especially helpful if you speak Dutch! Now I am the proud owner of two of her tiny handstitched hedgehogs (or "hedgenogs" as Sylvan used to call them) that she created for a spring fair at her children's school---bestill my heart, they are precious! Here they are pictured on my kitchen sink windowsill:
Also in the picture above you will notice my seashell ATC display stand, which shows the ATC of the moment. Recently some Playmobil has made it onto my little altar. The little red mushrooms that delight me, as well as my Playmobil avatar, Boadicea (a warrior queen of Celtic origin, AD 60 or so; my girl has her mace in one hand, bouquet in another, with keys on her belt). She kind of looks like me, I guess. I spend a lot of time looking at this kitchen sink view.

And also a lovely bookmark, with ribbon that says "happy." How could she know that my before-bed reading time is such a happy time of my day?
Finally, a little swatch of Delft tile patterned fabric. Adorable.
Thank you, Erna!

In other news...
This is what happens when you get carried away blogging/housecleaning/laundry-folding and your bread rises for a bit too long: the tops come out a little funky. But the loaves are still delicious. When will the Internet allow you to attach an Aroma to a blog post?

This is what happens when you're taking off your sweatshirt and your hand touches the hot loaf pan: you get a little burn and need some comfort.