I'm a guest on the Crafty Planner Podcast

Erin Harris Graphic

Popping in to let you know that I am this week's guest on the Crafty Planner Podcast. I was lucky to meet Sandi in real life at QuiltCon and was thrilled when she asked me to come on the podcast. We talk about Make Your Own Medallion and the story of how it came to be as well as why I cut up my Kona color card and being blind in one eye. You can listen on Sandi's site or wherever you listen to podcasts. I hope you will give it a listen. Thanks!


And it's January

Houseonhillroadbestnine2017

I looked up this week and it is January. How did that happen? December whizzed on by like no one's business. Logically, I know that this is how it works. That time between Thanksgiving and the new year is jam-packed with holiday things, end-of-year things, school things and, in our house, some birthdays and, most years, some travel. But, still. That went fast.

The girls went back to school yesterday and it was time. I was also sad to have an empty house. Funny how that works, huh? Jane is skating into the second semester of her senior year of high school and Kate is nearing the halfway mark of her high school career. If I really start thinking about how fast time is moving, I want to scream, "STOP!" I don't though. These young women are delightful and mature and ready for their next steps. I am proud of the individuals they are - kind, creative, generous, smart, interesting. I know they are moving on to great things (college for Jane, driving for Kate) and I love being their mom. I would like it if they would keep their rooms clean, but I realize that is my fantasy, not theirs.

I spent the first few months of the year working on my new book, Make Your Own Medallion (shameless plug and Amazon affiliate link). It has been winging its way into shops and mailboxes in the last week or so and I cannot wait to see what you all do with it. I'm immensely proud of this accomplishment. It was a long time in the making and I am thrilled that it is finally out in the world. One of the quilts was accepted into QuiltCon and will be hanging in Pasadena in February. Talk about a bucket list item checked off! I won't be there (insert sad face emoji), but I hope to see photos of it on Instagram (please tag me if you take one!). Back to the Make Your Own Medallion, though. I promise much more information and details soon - it obviously deserves its own post. I also have some fun project ideas up my sleeve using the book and hope you will join me. It's going to be fun!

I sewed some other quilts this year, too. They were all gifts or charity donations or added to the Harris family collection. I was horrible about documenting most of them. I want to do better at writing about my process and taking photos of what I make this year. Sure, there are snippets of most, if not all, on Instagram, but I do miss the pre-IG blogging days for that reason. If I had to choose a craft-related resolution, I think that would be it: more documentation. But I don't really do resolutions so I am just going to make a bigger effort to document my projects in 2018. That, to me, seems doable.

Knitting has become my downtime craft of choice these days. I love how I can knit and talk or knit and watch TV wherever my family is instead of being squirreled away in the studio by myself. I have found that sewing is good for when the kids are at school and Fatty is at work or I have a day with little commitments. It reminds me of how I used to sew when the girls were sleeping. I still do that, of course, but it's me sewing on a Saturday morning while the two of them sleep in. Times have changed! Knitting works best when they are awake, when they need me, when I have to wait for them. I also love that I knitted 2 2/3 sweaters for myself last year, 2 wraps and a lot of socks. And the yarn. We won't talk about the yarn. Gotta work on knitting through it all before I start clicking "buy" again.

Fatty continues to be my best friend. We traveled many places in 2017 - some together, some as a family - with big plans for more travel in 2018. He still reads all the time, rides his bikes often and makes me laugh daily. We watched some good TV and saw some great films together this year. The ones I am not interested in, he watches on his own or with his buddy (thank you, Pope). Life is fun with Fatty by my side and I can't wait for more good times ahead.

The collage of photos above is my best nine from Instagram. I think it is a pretty good representation of my year - my book! quilts! knitting! the girls! Fatty! champagne and french fries! I am generally over there, posting one photo (if not more) each day. It's also the home of my gratitude practice, where I post a photo and a list of things I am grateful for each day. There aren't any hard and fast rules as to how much I post except that I try to find three things to be thankful for even on the crappiest of crappy days. In the process, I have become a happier person. It's truly been transformative and I don't plan on stopping soon or, really, ever. I don't always list my constant gratitudes (family, friends, shelter, food, freedom), but please know I include those of you who take the time to read what I write, support what I do and follow along with my creative pursuits in that group. Thank you for sticking with me all these years, especially when through the times when it is more silence than not. I appreciate it deeply.

And so we go, my friends. Onward! Here's to a beautiful 2018.


Onward

Fatty's ornament

I was up early for a Saturday morning. Jane took the ACT (how is that possible?!?) and I wanted to make sure that she had everything she needed plus a decent breakfast. I had set the alarm for 6:12 and then reset it for 6:30. I could have slept much longer, the result of a late night out. Still, I am a mom and I had mom things to do.

I feel like this year has blown by and at the same time been excruciatingly slow. Most of it was marked by my suffering feet. From March until (dare I say it?) very recently, I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I woke up one morning, stepped out of bed and let a loud expletive out of my mouth because once you've had this particular pain in the foot, you know when you have it again. I have spent hours and hours treating it - physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor - and, just like last time, it took about 9 months to heal. It was almost gone until I took a particularly graceful (not really) stumble one Friday night in late August while walking on a sidewalk in downtown Asheville, NC. I landed hard on my right heel, my good heel, and spent the following few weeks on crutches, all of my weight supported by my left foot, my bad foot. I had to laugh about it because if I didn't, I would cry. And still, I did cry. Of course I did.

My girls are growing up. Both are in high school. Jane is 17 and drives. She still does theatre and art and loves history and analyzes literature in a way I just cannot. It is pretty amazing to listen to her talk. Her artwork is good. Two of her pieces this year have involved embroidery with drawing on paper. Seeing her use needle and thread made my mom heart happy. We have visited some colleges and have more visits scheduled. It's an exciting and anxiety-ridden time for us both. She has her heart and mind set on a small liberal arts college where she can study anything and everything she desires. When I think about her leaving in 18 months, I get weepy. Naturally, I try not to think about it. I am not sure that is the best idea, but it is how I cope.

Kate is 15 and playing lacrosse. It's a new sport to our family and I am not sure that I understand all the subtleties yet. I give that girl credit for going out there and playing hard, learning the game and gaining skills as she goes. That takes a certain kind of courage - one I don't possess. She is finding her way in a new school, with all the wonderful and truly trying things that being a teen today entails. She likes to write. I have no idea what kind of writing she does - I don't read it - but I have no doubt that it is good stuff. We bought her a laptop for her birthday and she types faster than anyone I know. She, too, used embroidery for a recent biology project where they had to illustrate the process of mitosis without drawing. I loved that, too.

I have made more quilts this year than I had made previous to 2016. Not really, but it feels that way. I should really count how many...I'm guessing that they number around 15, possibly more. I credit all the finishes with two things: machine binding and not giving a crap. Seriously. I used kits, I used other people's patterns and whole fabric lines. I decided that sometimes originality is overrated. I know that sounds bad. I know it does. BUT it was how I got my creative legs back underneath me. I went through the motions of making and, lo and behold, it made me want to make more. That's when I started designing again. I have made a whole lot of things that never made it to the blog. Sometimes I consider going back and documenting them all here, but then I think, "Nah. Move on, Erin." Moving on looks a lot like writing a second book so that is what I am doing.

We painted our house, changing the color from a pale yellow to a dark blue-gray. Navy, really. The door, which used to be a bottle green, almost black, is now a brighter green. Parrot green is the name. I love it. Blue and green is my jam. We have lived in this house for 11 and a half years and it feels more "us" than it ever has. I have taken over the entire third floor as a creative space. It used to be the girls' playroom and I would sew in the small walk-in closet. As they grew up, I slowly took over more and more of their space until I claimed it all. I still share with them - there is a TV with Netflix and a queen sized bed. It's a great place to hang out when it's clean, but it is messy most of the time. I have entirely too much fabric and I like giving away what I know I am not going to use. I would like to prioritize really paring down my stash, but the process (and the stash) overwhelms me. I would love someone to do it for me, but that is just fantasy. I would also like to replace some carpet and demo some bathrooms. A girl can dream and then plan, which is what I intend to do.

I've accumulated a decent stash of sock yarn, but, hey, I am using that. 2016 was the year I learned the magic loop and knit all the things on small needles. Five pairs of socks to date. Had you told me in January that I would enjoy sock knitting by the end of the year, I would have laughed in your face. I like surprising myself. I finished the sweater I started in the fall of 2015 and I actually enjoy wearing it. I have another one on the needles, but I am stuck at the sleeves. I can't figure out how to make the math work so I have set it aside and will probably ruminate about it until next fall.

Fatty is still the best. He really is. We have so much fun together even if we aren't doing anything other than sitting across the kitchen table as we are at this moment. He's reading the paper while I type away. He does that every day - reads a couple newspapers front to back just like his father does. He also rides his bike, but doesn't race much any more. He works hard and plays hard and really loves life. Someone recently asked me what my favorite thing about him is and, other than how great of a father he is (the obvious choice), I would choose his zeal for living. He has such a positive outlook that has most assuredly rubbed off on me. He is also extremely loyal and has wonderful, long-time friendships that enrich both of our lives. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this summer on a cruise boat in Alaska with our kids, one of my brothers and his family, and my parents. It was a great trip. We also took family trips to Florida and Colorado and the two of us spent five days in New York City. He still picks out most of the books I read, but I occasionally will download a Janet Evanovich or Mary Kay Andrews novel or other fast read to the Kindle. My favorite books this year were Purity by Jonathan Franzen and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, both of which I read in paper form. We celebrate the occasional Tuesday with a bottle of champagne and watch certain TV shows (Fargo, House of Cards, The Killing, Night Manager, Parenthood, The Crown) together. I'm a lucky lady.

I have gained 8 pounds since the foot stuff started. It's not coming off easily, but I chalk that up to my wishy-washy commitment to putting the work in to make the pounds go away. Some of the wishy-washiness is certainly because cardiovascular exercise has been difficult and some it is because I tend to eat my feelings. I'd like to work on that (I need to work on that), but life is full of messy moments and this year has been downright difficult and depressing at times. I am trying to be gentle with myself and, most of the time, I do fairly well in that department. I have good friends who listen when I need to get it out there. I have Fatty and the girls. I get massages and the occasional pedicure to lift my spirits. I dyed my hair this week. This was a monumental move for me. My red hair is the thing I like most about my physical self and I never wanted to mess with it. That is until I couldn't pull my hair back without being overwhelmed by all. the. gray. It was time. No one noticed. I think that's a sign that it was the right move. Also, less gray. Thank goodness.

And speaking of thankfulness, I am committed more than ever to my gratitude practice that I started in November 2015 on Instagram. I can honestly say that I am a happier person for taking the time to note the good, especially in the midst of all the bad, and being grateful for the big and little things that make up my days. I like looking at life through this lens and I am so appreciative of the encouraging comments people have made about it. I should add that around the same time last fall, I hired a cleaning lady every other week. I'd be lying if I said that decision didn't add to my happiness. It does. Much more than I had anticipated, in fact.

So, yes. This is where I stand mid-Decmeber of 2016. If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I've had this blog for over 10 years now. It has definitely changed, but so have I. I miss writing in this space and would like to make it a habit going forward, but no promises. The whole being gentle with myself thing, you know. Well, that and a book manuscript that is due in April.

I hope 2017 is a good year for us all. Onward, my friends.

 


Rinse and Repeat, 2.0 and (Over) Sharing

Rinse and repeat quilt 2

I'm very slowly, but surely working on the pattern for my Rinse and Repeat quilt. I have had a few emails wondering when the pattern will be ready and I promise it's coming. I made this second version to test my math (it's good!). I love how the saturated Anna Maria Horner prints look on that field of white. I had a handful of quilters test the pattern, too, and their versions all came out great. I can't wait to share more with you.

And speaking of sharing (or maybe over-sharing?), Accuquilt put me in their Spotlight earlier this week. I had a lot of fun answering the questions. You can hop on over to their blog to find out more about me. I even dish on why Fatty is called Fatty.....I know inquiring minds want to know!

Hope you have a great weekend and that it involves some sewing if you want it to!

 


Make and Work

As many people do, I chose a guiding word for 2016. I have done this in the past with varying degrees of success and really was unsure if I wanted to go down that path again this year. Then I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I set about choosing a word. Or, maybe more precisely, a word chose me. It popped in my head and would not get out. It reappeared again and again. Every time I thought about a guiding word for the year ahead, this was the word that came to mind. It was not the word I wanted, but it was a persistent little bugger. I stopped fighting it and embraced that word. That word? WORK.

Applique pillow 4

I tried and tried to come up with something different. Really, I did. Work has a negative connotation for so many people. It can sound like soul-sucking drudgery and the exact opposite of fun and relaxation. There are certainly many examples of that kind of work - cleaning toilets and doing taxes come to my mind. BUT! There is a positive side to work, especially fulfilling, creative work. And that is the work that I am talking about.

It's no secret that I like to make things. Obviously. This blog is a testament to my making. I sew. I knit. I cook. I bake. I crochet. I paint. I garden. I even sometimes write. I make, plain and simple. And I love making. I do. My day is better for it. My heart is happier when my hands are busy and my mind is working and I am creating.

Applique pillow 3

Yet, I have never approached my making with an attitude of work, where the making itself becomes more job-like with specific studio hours or long-term goals. Rather, my making has always been born from my heart. If I want to make it, I generally do. If I don't, I don't. I can go weeks without picking up a pair of scissors and cutting into fabric. My sewing machine has sat idle for long periods of time. There is a benefit of making in this way. It is almost always satisfying and filled with excitement. Each project is fresh and new and full of possibilities. It is free of time constraints and deadlines. If it becomes boring or no longer fun, I can choose to let it sit, or maybe even to let it go. And all of this is fine and good. It is creative and it is making and it fulfills me.

Until, it doesn't.

Applique pillow 2

I find it very easy to let life and living get in the way of making. I'm talking about the every day demands on time and energy that we all face. Most of these things are good things - family! friends! cooking! exercising! traveling! - and I certainly don't want to come off as not appreciating the wonderful life that I am blessed with. I enjoy spending time with my loved ones and taking care of them and the things (groceries, pets, gardens, even paying the bills) that need attending to. But, I also really enjoy making. It fills my soul and gives me a happy heart. I have just come to the realization that when faced to choose between the two, I am more apt to wait until everything else and everyone else is taken care of before I tend to myself and my creativity. As a result, I suffer and everyone around me suffers. Happy wife, happy life? No one is happy unless Mom is happy? Yeah, that.

Why make the distinction? "Work" and "make" are both words that imply action, but they are different. Making is about creating something. Work is creating something, too, but, for me, it means showing up and putting in the time even when I may not feel like it. It's about taking my creativity and prioritizing it just as I would any paying job. It's about exerting effort and holding myself accountable to allow time to make. It's about taking the inspiration and running with it and going through the motions when inspiration doesn't show up.  It's about practicing, maybe failing, picking up the pieces and coming out on the other side. It's about being available to myself so that when the light bulb goes off and inspiration calls, I am in the practice of working. If I can do that, then when inspiration asserts itself, I can respond to it and make, make, make. If I am lucky, at the end, I will have made something beautiful and I will be creatively fulfilled. I really can't ask more than that.

Applique pillow 1

I have more thoughts on this, but I think I will save them for another post. I leave you with this needle turned applique pillow that I made over the course of the weekend. The pattern is from Carolyn Friedlander's new class, Hand-Stitched Applique Quilts, on Creativebug and all of the fabrics are Cotton and Steel. Cut out on Friday night, I basted it and started the applique on Saturday. I finished up the hand sewing just as the Oscars started Sunday night. Monday I sandwiched and quilted the front, cut the back pieces and inserted a zipper before assembling and hand binding the whole thing. Tuesday it went in the mail to someone I have never met, but needed an angel in a pillow swap on Instagram. I loved sewing this! It really didn't feel like work even though that is exactly what it was.


Hello 2016

2015 best nine by house on hill road

Happy New Year!

It hardly seems possible that we are a full six days into 2016, but we are. For some reason, it doesn't feel like a new year to me. I'm still cleaning up Christmas and the girls have just gone back to school. I had been looking forward to some quality time in the studio (I have plans! That I am excited about!), but the time has not materialized yet. Soon, I think. Actually, I know. I will make the time if I have to.

2015 was a strange year for me creativity-wise. I think it was a bit of a low valley instead of a high hill. I started the year off just having shelved a large project that had been consuming most of my creative time and energy. Last January, I found myself directionless and now, with the benefit of time, I can say that I was truly floundering. I didn't know what I wanted to do and, even if I had, I wasn't sure how to go about it. I gave myself permission to just do what spoke to me and, surprisingly, that was making quilts using kits and other people's patterns with whole fabric lines where I didn't have to make a single design decision. Those quilts were mostly donated and actually showed up on the blog (here, here and here). A couple of those remain unquilted and there are still some kits hanging around the studio. While I know some people look down on quilters that use kits or make something exactly as they see it in a book or on the cover of a pattern, I do not. There is a place for them. For me, having the decisions made for me allows my mind to rest and lets the ideas percolate. Going through the motions of cutting, sewing, pressing is familiar and satisfying even if I am not the one who put those fabrics together in that pattern in the first place. It's restful and I needed it.

Something shifted in the summer. I will thank my first mini quilt for that. All of the sudden it was not so daunting to design something, especially something so small! And from that little bit of kindling, a bigger fire started to grow. I made six large quilts of my own design in the second half of the year, plus two minis! Not too shabby, huh? I haven't blogged any of them, save the two minis, so I am going to start this year doing just that. I do not want to let them go undocumented. I love having a visual record of what I have made with all the details (that I tend to forget) about the project. Some will turn into patterns for sale. I've been slowly working on that this fall, but plan to ramp up my efforts with the new year. I also sewed a couple of skirts, some shirts and a dress. I began knitting again in September. It all feels right.

Some years I have big goals and plans, but I'm taking 2016 as it comes. My one tenet this year is to work hard: at life, at making, at creativity, at being a mom and wife, at being a friend, at being fully me. It'll probably involve a lot of quilts, some garments, knitting or hand sewing in the evenings, maybe some painting. I hope it will be filled with a lot of laughter, time with my family, cooking good food, reading good books, less driving, more walking. I plan on continuing my daily gratitude practice because it has brought an incredible amount of joy to my life the last couple of months. Or, really, made me see that the joy is there, but sometimes I just need to look.

I have a good feeling about this year. Let's do it. Onward!


This spring

March 21a

There is something magic about this time of the year. While I have always touted autumn as my favorite season, spring is right up there. The anticipation of warm weather after months of gray skies and frigid temperatures seems to be constantly on my mind. I watch the weather forecast and delight in predictions of anything north of 50 degrees, silently sighing when consecutive days of rain are ahead. The evening light that comes with the one hour forward push of the clock is so welcome. I find my spirits brighter, the witching hour shorter and the general mood of everyone elevated so slightly that the tiniest of shifts add up to a great sum. In short, it's lovely.

This spring is later than in years past, making it all the sweeter. I have photos in my archives of our magnolia tree in full bloom on St. Patrick's Day. As of last night, I noticed just the faintest touches of pink on the tippy-top branches. Soon. Likewise, Fatty and I walked the dog on Saturday morning, noting the daffodils that were inching closer to blooming. On Sunday, those very same bulbs had gone and done it - yellow blooms everywhere! I saw forsythia flaunting its golden self roadside yesterday and was amazed at the tiny leaves sprouting on my sole lilac bush. One day soon, I will be driving down a particular stretch of road that I travel multiple times most days and I will be overcome with the season - trees in bloom, all the green leaves and green grass, sun shining and warm air. It sneaks up on me, but it is a moment that I look forward to all year. The overwhelming feeling of joy and being alive always surprises me, but I soak it in and carry it with me for weeks and months to come.

I want to remember how we ate dinner outside on Saturday night, drinking the bottle of wine that Caroline and Jeremy brought before they left. And how I got up on Sunday morning, grabbed my coffee and a quilt and sat outside with a magazine, even if it was for a short time. And that yesterday was 77 degrees! I drove around town, doing my errands with the windows open. I wore a skirt, no tights, short sleeves and flats. I spent the remainder of my day in the studio sewing, just like I did the day before. At the moment, I have an incredible need to see some projects through. I have finished three quilt tops and am very close to finishing a fourth. I have a gazillion ideas running through my head and I am ignoring all housework and just sewing, sewing, sewing. I want to remember this - the frenzy, the excitement, the energy all directed at making things.


The Modern Sewciety Podcast

Ep055art

When Stephanie Kendron of The Modern Sewciety asked if I would be a guest on her podcast, of course I said yes. I have been listening to the podcast since the beginning and love, love, love it! I often have it playing while I am sewing and find myself trying to join the conversations so it was so much fun chatting with Stephanie about quilting and blogging and more. I hope you'll pop over and listen to our conversation.  Amber Johnson from Gigi's Thimble is also a guest on this episode, talking about her new book, Vintage Vibe.

Have a great weekend!

 


On Mother's Day

I wrote this post five years ago for my friend Lecia's blog. Today I'm bringing it home. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

Derby 014_1_1

My mother gave me thick hair and blue eyes, fair skin and freckles. She taught me to write my name and how to bake. She made me a reader and lover of books. She passed on her appreciation for collections and started a few of mine. She gave me her sense of colors and taught me how high to hang a picture. She drove me to soccer practices and swim meets and paid for lessons of all sorts. She taught me good table manners just in case I was invited to eat at the White House. She let me have the yellow carpet in my room when she really wanted the green. She bought me the Izod shirts and Tretorn sneakers but would never let me have clogs. She made braided ribbon barrettes for my hair and bought me beads for friendship pins. She always makes sure there is an apple pie on Thanksgiving because it’s my favorite. She took me skiing at age 3 and pretty much every year after that. She drove me to college and didn’t cry until she was on her way home. She kissed my scraped knees and wiped away my tears. She cooked my favorite meal on my birthdays. She bought me my first sewing machine. She still has a sweater I knit her although it is really way too big. She was there when I gave birth to my babies. She trusts my judgment although she sometimes disagrees. She is sensitive and thoughtful, kind and caring, generous and gracious. She is beautiful inside and out. She supports me. She has loved me every day for the last 38 years. And I know it. I always have.

I hope my kids know I feel the same way about them. Because I gave them thick hair, blue eyes and freckles. I correct their spelling and make them hold their pencils correctly. I let them stay up reading because they love their books. I let them crack the eggs and measure the flour. I add to their bottle cap collections. I encourage them to draw and then hang up their drawings. I sit through volleyball practices and watch their swim meets. I tell them to chew with their mouths closed and to put their napkins on their laps. I’m repainting their rooms because they want a change. I let them wear clogs. I have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving because that is their favorite. I kiss scrapes and wipe away tears, too. I take them skiing. I cried when they left kindergarten, but didn’t let them see me. I go to California Pizza Kitchen and Red Robin on their birthdays because that is what they choose. I rethread the toy sewing machine 15 times in 20 minutes. I keep all their love notes. I want to be there when they have their babies. I respect their differences although I sometimes don’t understand. I have loved them from the moment they were born.

Being a mother is a precious gift. I feel blessed to have learned from the best.

April 3 024_1_1


You still have time to make this gift. And it is (mostly) free.

A friend of mine recently emailed Fatty with a link to this video about moms and their kids (go watch - it's amazing). She then asked his help to make a video of my girls telling me why they are thankful for me and why they love me.

 

People, this is quite possibly the best gift I have ever received.

Not only was it incredibly thoughtful, but it's a great reminder that even though I sometimes doubt my success as a mother (who doesn't?), my kids don't see me that way. It was something I needed to hear and the bonus is that I will always have it to look back at. I am so thankful for this.

Why don't you do this for someone you love? Your spouse, the grandparents, a friend, teachers....the list goes on. All it takes is a little time, a little technology (iphone, ipod touch, ipad, computer, video camera) and you can send it via email Christmas morning or put it on a CD/DVD to send in the mail. If you have technologically savvy kids, like mine, they can probably do it all on their own with a little direction from you. Heck, if you have extra time, you could even make a movie out of it. No matter how you do it, it will be treasured.

Like I said, possibly the best gift I have ever received. Well, besides the kids themselves. They are pretty damn great.

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My children gave me their permission to post this video on the blog. Please respect our wishes that it not be uploaded anywhere else. Do not pin this video to pinterest, share it on facebook or the like. I appreciate your understanding - thank you.

 


I lost my words

Mom's orchids

I lost my words.

I am not sure how it happened, but it did. And when they disappeared, I barely noticed. But now, sitting a greater distance away, it's clear that they are missing. I'm not sure if after pouring so much into a book, I just didn't feel the need to say anything else. Maybe. More likely, it was not sharing much of anything while I intently focused on those 208 pages that made me clam up a bit. Regardless, the words stopped.

I find it curious, though, that while I am doing a dismal job of documenting my daily life (a photo a day is often a chore and there are no words on the 365 any longer, either) and a mediocre job at sharing my creative work (garments that have been sewn- and worn!-  and not blogged as well as the weekly oil painting), I still form the sentences in my head. The words are floating around in there, looking for a place to land. And that backlog of sentences and paragraphs that need writing down are cramping my creative muscles. Because, let's face it, the majority of my thinking is focused on my kids, my husband, our household, feeding everyone, cleaning up after everyone, procuring and doing the things that make up daily life. When there is space and time for creative thinking, it is best for me if that little sliver of mental bandwidth I have leftover is clear and ready for use. I need to shake out what is in there and move forward.

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that the words are coming. They may be jumbled and messy or short and sweet, but I plan on letting them out as they come. Lucky for me, I have been asked to join the party that is habit in December. One photo, 30 words or less. And, for me, a jump start - a way to let the words out, just a little at a time. I'd love it if you'd visit me and the other guests over there this month. I think the sum of all those daily bits of all those women's lives is powerful and a bit magical, too.


Taking Stock

Two days into the new year and I feel like I need to look back a bit. 2012 was a good year for me - a really good year, in many ways.

I started off the year with a word as my focus: make. It was about making time, making memories, making choices, making things, making friends, making food, making a home. And while it was not at the forefront of my mind at all times, I do feel that it was the guiding, and sometimes driving, force by which I lived in 2012.

As the year got underway, I felt like I needed a purpose other than being a wife and mother. I needed something for me, something to do, something to focus on. I said that bit out loud, to Fatty and a few friends, and the universe listened. An opportunity presented itself shortly thereafter and it felt right.

We tackled some long and overdue projects around our house. Rooms and woodwork were painted, light fixtures swapped out, wainscoting installed, carpet removed, the basement and garage trashed out. I admit it kind of snowballed, one project turning into another. In the end, though, I feel like this house we have lived in for 7+ years is finally feeling like us. 2013 will see more painting, more carpet removing, more organizing and less stuff.

We traveled. Some trips included the kids and extended family, others were just the two of us, one was by myself. We like to go places, see new things, eat and drink our way through cities. Many of my favorite memories of the year were made during our travels. Meeting friends I have "known" for years because of this blog and hanging out with our loved ones invigorates me. Still, I like home best. And I know that to be grounded, I need to be here more than anywhere else. I'm glad I finally realized that.

Sewing-wise, there were a couple completed quilts and two quilt tops that are waiting to be basted and finished. I sewed some clothes for myself and the girls. I finished a dress I started in the fall of 2011 and it has become a favorite. I finished a sweater that was started around the same time as the dress and I don't love it. Granny square fever struck in the summer. As with every year, there were some real winners craft-wise, and some real losers. Many of them not blogged. It's my intent to go back and chronicle some of these in the next month - stay tuned. I also took a one-night painting class with a group of girlfriends. Immediately, I knew I needed to get back to art. It felt good to play with paint and I wondered why I had ever stopped. Top of my list for 2013 is more art, both sketching and painting. I'm also continuing to focus on moving my body every day. It became abundantly clear that exercise, like making, is crucial to my mental well-being.

I made a definitive effort this past year to be present with my family when I am with them. This involved me saying no to some opportunities and leaving work to weekday school hours. I don't regret it one bit. My days had structure and I was very aware of what could be done in the number of hours I had. I think it helped me get beyond my procrastinating ways, as well. In the end, these girls are only home for a limited number of years and I am lucky that I get to spend a good part of my day with them. I want to be able to look back and know that I did everything I could for them and with them while I have the chance.

I'm in the throes of documenting our days from the last year using Project Life. I had started out 2012 strong and steady, but stopped sometime in April. This is one project I don't want to let go so I am back at it, halfway through August at this point. I will be continuing for 2013, too. With my fifth year of 365 under my belt, I have developed a strong habit of taking photos every day and I can't imagine not doing that. Recording these moments helps cement the memories. This is really important to me and the girls love looking back. So do I.

So, onward! I'm happy to be in 2013, feet firmly planted where I stand with lots of room to continue to grow. At 41 years old, I feel like I am finally settling into my own skin, my own being in ways that have escaped me previously. Kind of exciting, if you ask me.

January peonies


Best $6 I've spent recently and some rambling thoughts

 

August 19

I snatched these flowers at the farmer's market last Saturday morning. They are still going strong and are the best smile-inducers now that the kids are back in school.
I think I lost my blogging mojo this summer. I'm sure you have guessed that already. No big news, right? But, I'm not finished blogging or going to throw in the towel yet. I think I just needed an old fashioned break and without realizing it, I took one.
I've been in this space for six years now. Six years! And when I think about what my life was like then, with two little kids who needed more immediate attention and more constant watching, I wonder how the heck I did it. Seriously. How did I find the time to be here 5 days a week with something to say? Now with the kids older, needing less watching, but more of my driving time and much, much more of moral support, I find that I don't have the kind of time that I think I need to be here. And that's the catch...I don't really need a ton of time to stop in and share a little tidbit. It doesn't have to be a huge, finished project that gets me to take photos, sit down and write. I used to share the little things, the progress of projects, small works in progress, stacks of fabric, photos of my day. I used to be more spontaneous about it all. I'd like to go back there and I'm going to try to.
I'm not going to promise posts 5 days a week. That's kind of unlikely right now. But I'm dipping my toes back in slowly. I have some finished things to share. And some unfinished things, too. I have a couple of great books to tell you about and some online craft courses to share (complete with giveaways!). I've got advice to ask about stocking the freezer for school lunches. I might just post some photos if I feel like it. Maybe I'll tell you about the cleanse I've been doing for the past couple of weeks. Or maybe not. Who knows?
So, hi. I'm Erin. Nice to see you again.

New York Spoils

Bluewhite

Scrap pack

Perlecotton

Marimekko

Nano iro2

We are home from New York.

It was a good, long, exhausting and fun week. We saw Tara and Tim twice - the perfect bookends to a week in Manhattan where we shopped, walked, shopped, ate, walked, drank, ate, drank, walked, shopped our way through Manhattan. Did I mention the eating and drinking and shopping?

All of the above came from Purl Soho with the exception of the dandelion fabric. That's from Marimekko (on sale!). The second photo is actually a scrap pack. I saw it when I walked in the store and thought about it the whole time I was there. The fabrics are not necessarily ones that I'd be drawn to on their own, but together like that? Yes. Please. And thank you, too. I scooped up the other blues and whites to go along. I know exactly what I am going to make and if I have the time, I will start it today. The green? Well, of course, I had to have that.

Now, home, I'm feeling incredibly spoiled. I have loving in-laws that take my kids so that Fatty and I can run away for a week together every summer. I have a husband who is more than a husband - he's my best friend and partner in crime. He makes me laugh and knows that if my blood sugar gets too low, it's not pretty. He holds my hand as we walk down the street and sits patiently while I spend hours looking at textiles and trying on clothes at Anthropologie. It is such a blessing to have that time alone, to be able to manage a vacation each year, to feel completely in love for the last eighteen years. I don't ever want to take that for granted. I feel incredibly blessed.

And the girls? I missed them just the right amount - not too much and not too little. We are hanging out today, running errands and doing other everyday life things like laundry and cooking. I've already referee-ed one fight and I'm sure it won't be the last. I'm slowly bringing them back to our world of limited television and healthier eating. Most of the time, I have the best job. I wouldn't change it for the world. Those girls - an equally big blessing.


How baking became making

This morning

This morning, after the kids were at school and I had walked the dog, I started bread dough.

There was a time not so long ago, but also not in the recent past, when Fatty declared that I needed to bake more bread. Mind you, this was not a declaration of his love of freshly baked bread, although I think he does enjoy it. Nor was it a testament to my baking skills - he doesn't like a lot of sweets.  He said that I am happier when I am baking bread.

Truth be told, I was taken aback. It's not that I don't like to bake - I do find it very enjoyable, although my waistline does not. I just didn't see it. I didn't see the happier when baking scenario. But his words weighed on my mind, and still sometimes do. Bread? Really? After awhile of pondering how baking bread could possibly be making me happier, I had the revelation. The bread baking was just another way of making. It was the making that was producing happiness.

I need to make.

So today because I had things that I had to do while the kids were at school and I knew that after they were home, I would not have time, I did my making early. I mixed the water with the yeast and the salt and slowly stirred in the flour. I let rise on the counter for 3 hours before baking a loaf for dinner. We ate it with soup and it was delicious.

The making does not happen everyday. I don't want you to think that my life is perfect and each day goes swimmingly. This is not the case. Life happens here, too. But when those little pockets of time appear, I grab them. I might sew, I might crochet, I might simply make dinner. My making doesn't need to be a huge project, although sometimes that is really nice. A few stitches in fabric does wonders for my outlook and puts a smile on my face. What I require is some ingredients or materials, a little time and my hands. With just those things, I can make.

And it's knowing that I need the making that is making all the difference.

Bread


Ten years

Kate bday2

November 7

Kate bday 3

Kate turns 10 this coming Saturday.

Ten years old.

We celebrated this milestone with her friends on Monday. Ten girls, ten hula hoops, yards and yards of duct tape and electrical tape, pleasant 70 degree weather, lots of giggling and screaming, running around and rolling in the grass. I think they had fun. It looked like they were, at least. She wanted a rainbow cake - that was her only request. If you could have seen the look on those girls' faces when I cut the first slice. The awe and surprise was amazing. It made me look like a superhero of a mom when all it really took was some food coloring. What they don't know, won't hurt them.

On Kate's actual birthday, I'm running my first half marathon. I remember the first time I thought that I might just want to run that far. It was New Year's Eve 2001 - Kate was 6 weeks old, Jane was 2. Someone asked me what resolutions I had for the coming year. I said to run the half marathon. I didn't end up doing it - I could barely find the time to sleep, let alone run enough to train. Really, what was I thinking? But for 10 years, more or less, that thought has been in the back of my mind. I trained for a different half marathon three years ago, but didn't end up running it. It wasn't meant to be then and, until recently, I wasn't sure it would ever happen.

Kate bday

Rainbow cake

At the beginning of the summer, I saw a sign advertising a half marathon in November. I mentioned it to Fatty and friends, all of whom are cyclists or runners or both, and they encouraged me. With the promise of beer, I convinced one in particular to coach me (Thank you, Michael. I couldn't have gotten this far without you). I've been training since August. I have run short distances and many miles. People (you know who you are) have helped me along the way and I am grateful to have them in my life, pushing me, running with me, believing in me, cheering me on.

Saturday. 13.1 miles. I'm nervous and little bit scared. But I'm ready.

It only took me 10 years.


Eight to go

Swoon1

Yesterday was a parenting fail. I feel like acknowledging that because I don't want you to think it's all rainbows and sunshine here. I'm human, after all. And I know that we all have those days. Well, I know that I do. And if you don't, then please tell me your secret. I could use some help from time to time.

My biggest hope is that the girls don't remember every single moment I fail them. I certainly don't remember those times when my parents mucked it up. And along that line of thinking, maybe seeing me lose it with them from time to time will teach my kids that we all have our moments, good and bad. And as we make our way through these pre-teen and teen years, it'd be good for me to remember this lesson of empathy, too.

At the end of the day, I had this quilt square. I sewed it while they were at day camp. It's huge - 24" - and the first of nine. The pattern is Swoon by Camille Roskelley. All of the fabric is from my stash and the white is Kona Snow.

If all else fails? I hope my kids remember that I made them things. And that I did all of it, good and bad, the praising and the yelling, because I love them so much. Surely they will know that.


Now I am 40

May 24

I had a milestone birthday on Sunday. And as much as some people might not relish those larger, even numbers, I think this one is pretty dang great.  I'm still beaming from all the goodness and processing everything that happened this past weekend. Fatty threw me a lovely party and Rachel was in town for it. While I knew about the party, they (I'm including you, Caroline and Marcia!) managed to surprise me with some unexpected guests. It was wonderful to see Alicia and Heather again so soon after our weekend this past winter. And I think my eyes may have popped out of my head when Leslie walked through my door! It was such an unexpected treat to meet her after being friends for so many years. I'm humbled and flabbergasted that these ladies traveled so far to celebrate with me. It was the icing on the cake, so to speak, and my only regret is that we didn't get to spend more time together. Oh! And that I didn't take more pictures. Regardless, I am so grateful for their friendships and all of my other family and friends who made turning forty even sweeter than I could have imagined. I feel blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people.