Monday, December 26, 2011

the day after

it's a quiet post christmas morning with over a dozen deer grazing outside. i think i hear tristan upstairs, awake with dan, doing his usual grouchy morning pleading. they will come down soon.

i am happy for this week between christmas and the new year, with dan at home, and no school related stress for tashi. it will be a nice week of spending time together, with no strict agenda, lots of food, and twinkling lights.

our solstice was quiet and well lit. our christmas was indeed merry. tashi and tristan were very happy with their fresh infusion of stuff. and we were happy to see them so happy. we had a wonderful feast in the late afternoon followed by a walk. and then i spent the rest of the evening fading in an and out of naps. the weeks prior to christmas contained way too many late nights and the time has now come to catch up on sleep!

while i can't say it was a handmade christmas by any means, there were a few things. tashi made tie dyes for dan, and i made one too. she also made me some sweet smelling soap designed with celtic knots.

i ran out of time to make tristan anything! so i pulled a bib from my holiday market stash that he'd told me a few days before was his favorite. and i gave him one of my blankets that has trains on it. it is a simple rectangular blanket with fleece backing.

for tashi i made a log cabin pillow. it is my first attempt at log cabin. i followed the instructions from patchwork style for everything but the back of the pillow. rather than a zipper i just made a tucked in enclosure. for that i followed amanda soule's instructions in handmade home. i didn't plan it ahead, just grabbed fabric scraps as i went. so it is not the most color coordinated piece, but i'm still quite pleased with how it turned out. the back is made from a soft blue chenille, same as the center patch on the pillow.

i have wandered away from my december challenge at moments. some nights have gone by without the sit ups and yoga. i have found myself crawling into bed at 2am and at that moment, remembering, yet refusing to pull myself back out of the bed! also, the three mile walk just didn't happen. something has got to be done about that! once a week for a walk simply should not be too much to ask. regardless, i felt the benefits of even a minimal exercise routine, and i plan to carry it on, with even stronger resolve as the busy-ness of this time fades. writing did happen, with great satisfaction. the back room has been transformed into an inhabitable, somewhat cozy, though busy, space. we have been spending much more time back there, using it as both a playroom and a computer space. and as for minimizing my time with technology, let's just say some days were better than others!

overall, i feel quite fortunate. and i am so very delighted by this cozy week we have in front of us.

wishing you all a wonderful time of rest and reflection before we embark on a new year, a year that is sure to hold much action, change, challenge and surprise!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


oh rufus wainwright, thank you for this gift!

i am neither monotheistic or christian, but the cadence and passion of this song really moves me, and the intention is certainly for good. the french version minuit chretiens is quite different from oh holy night. see this translation.

please enjoy! sorry about the ad in the beginning!

wishing you and yours a very blessed solstice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

mid december

i have to admit, i will be happy when this week is over. things have been happening around here in small constant bursts. a little baking here. some leaf raking there. focused stretches of online gift shopping. a minimal amount of tidying and sleeping. endless loads of laundry. gathering the greenery. meal preparation. some playing, some reading, some nursing. quick jaunts outside. bits of work on an exciting collaboration. a very slow approach to decorating a tree. and lots and lots of sewing in the spaces in between. or shall i say, all those other things happen in the spaces between bouts of sewing!

i wish i could say the sewing has been for making gifts, but it's been all about creating stock for the holiday craft fairs. i'm still new to this, and really didn't think ahead this year, leaving all the making to the last minute. i must plan ahead for the next season so that i don't have to cram as i have been. this saturday is the last market i'll attend and i will be happy to take a break from scallops and snaps. though i may proceed to fill the time with some last minute gift making, i think a feeling of self imposed pressure may lift. then again, i'm not sure i'm ever free of that self imposed pressure!

i'm still doing sit ups, and keeping the stress at bay, but i am very, very . . . . . tired! i'm looking forward to some time to chill out with my family while engaging ourselves in activities that celebrate the coming solstice.

but, it's all good, i must say. i feel blessed that i can do what i'm doing, that i've been given the opportunity to explore my craft and stay at home with my very busy little boy (and starting next week, tashi, who won't have to go to school for two weeks, yippee!). and that back room that was part of the december challenge. . . it has become inhabitable! tristan loves checking out all the board games we have stacked in the closet. while he does that, i have this opportunity to eke out a blog entry!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

got tree?

we designated today as the day to fetch our yule tree. and so it was. we decided not to cut our own this year and instead support a local farm five minutes down the road selling pre-cut trees harvested in va. we headed down there after lunch, tristan falling asleep in the car within two minutes. so we turned back home, as we wanted him to be awake for the tree ritual.

the farm was supposed to be open until 5pm according to the sign, but when we arrived there after his nap, a little past 4pm, the gate was chained and padlocked. so we drove fast-like out to a cut-your-own farm in green county that we have purchased trees from in years past. the sun dropped behind the mountain just as we pulled in. tashi and i ran around pell mell for a few moments, seeking the perfect tree. there was one white pine we admired. but the owner offered a great deal on a pre-cut virginia frazer fir. and now that tree is in our living room, gracing it, trying to relax.

zanzibar cake

we recently enjoyed a charming book from the library called ella takes the cake. ella, a young elephant, desperately wants to be of assistance to her mother, who is baker.

we discover that zanzibar cake is ella's favorite.

so we found the recipe for zanzibar cake online, and made one tonight. tristan poured in all the dry ingredients and helped me mix. he also licked the beaters clean.

while i had trouble getting the icing to drip in just such a way, it was very tasty. a little like a super moist applecake, with just the right touch of clove-cinnamon-nutmeg.

we thus walk toward the heart of winter, firing up the hearth, filling our home with the scent of spice, and enjoying the foods that keep us warm and cheerful.

Friday, December 09, 2011

almost-full moon check in

it has been a candle lit contemplative not-so-stressful december thus far. gifts are getting checked off the list (albeit sluggishly), some nice blankets have been sewn up for market, some very pleasing writing has evolved and i am managing to read at least a little bit most nights before bed.

i have been meeting my december challenge with daily sit ups and at least one yoga pose! i certainly could be doing a little better with the yoga, but even a few minutes of tree pose is very centering. i usually do a string of poses, but remind myself when it starts to get really late and i've done nothing yet, that my challenge called for at least one, which, really, is always do-able. the sit ups are definitely making a difference. i can feel my core beginning to strengthen, an area of my body i've neglected on and off for over a decade. there is still much work to be done. what i really like about this december challenge is that it sets the tone for the new year, so i can go into it realistically, with resolutions already underway.

the walk almost didn't happen, and instead of three miles, it ended up being two. and i failed to really get the heart rate going as i took at least 50 photos with my phone!!!! but an exercise of the mind is just as necessary as an exercise of the body! and it really felt good to be out in there in the brisk air, the sun beginning to set, a huge bright moon gazing down at me the entire time.

there is progress in the chaotic back room. it serves many purposes: playroom, office, house of instruments and guest room. most recently it was guest room to my sister in law, barb, so the futon is center stage. but we will fold it up and let the playroom take over for the holidays. i feel like it is already a much more pleasant place to spend time, which is important because tristan likes to be back there. i also brought the room's walk in closet back to order. it is funny how easily a walk in closet can turn into a walk in disaster!

i hung some pictures over dan's desk. i've been wanting to hang things in this patchwork sort of a way on the wall above our bed, but gave it my first shot here. i think it worked out. we'll be moving my desk into the back room this weekend (to make way for the yule tree in the living room), and i plan to hang pictures similarly over my desk.

below are some pics from walk. all the photos in this post were taken on my phone!

wishing you all a magical december full moon.

Friday, December 02, 2011

december truly is about death and rebirth

with all of its magic and surprises, december.

and now also, december, the month that my uncle dimas dimitri efthyvoulou passed into the spirit world, a world he grew to know well in his 87 years of life.

(my beautiful mother, tatiana, with her beautiful mother, zoe, and her very handsome brother, dimas)

dimas was a photographer who spent several years in the amazon jungle, discovering a way of seeing he called "sidesight." he took a series of photos of the rainforest reflected in the water, and turned them sideways to reveal the spirits of the place, spirits both gentle and fierce, human and animal.

he spent several months with us in san francisco, where he promoted his vision and put on a series of slide shows to captive audiences. it was awesome to spend time with someone twice our age who was also twice as carefree. we have many dear memories of that time spent with him.

this video shows some of his amazon photos set to some powerful tribal music.

his death was sudden and unexpected, leaving many of us with a pile of mixed emotions. i wish so that i could have seen him one more time, bid him farewell, conveyed my respect and my gratitude. friends of mine he met tell me now how they were forever changed by his vision. i really thought he would be there the next time we visited cyprus, telling me of his latest healing techniques, playing with his cats, doting over his young wife, making silly jokes, reveling in our daughter's earth goddess beauty, and meeting our little boy, pointing at tristan's shirt and asking him what that spot is, and then playfully tweaking his chin when he looked down to find said spot. he always got me with that one.

farewell, dear dimas. you will always be alive and full of love and light in our memories.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

this mom steps into december

tonight i was having another difficult run at trying to get tristan to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. we were away for the week of thanksgiving and his sleeping schedule, such as it was, became even more erratic. rather than spending an hour pacing around the bedroom and singing to him, i gave up a half hour into it and brought him back downstairs. i was feeling rather grumpy, and even though i didn't force the issue of sleep, i also didn't sit down and join him when he pulled out the playmobil basket. he chattered at me in his cheerful curious way, and i remained distracted and terse while sitting at the computer. a while later he crawled into my lap and was ready for slumber.

once he was tucked into bed i came back downstairs and started placing all the playmobil pieces back in the basket. among the random people and plants and accessories i came upon a line of creatures placed very precisely in a row, their heads down, grazing most likely. bovine, a pink baby unicorn and a reindeer.

all the annoyance at a rebel toddler fell away, and all i could feel was love, admiration and mourning for moments lost in angst. there was something so precious about the way he lined those animals up, something so pathetic that it took place right under my nose and i didn't notice until he was in bed, and something so perfect in the presence of the reindeer this last eve of november. a few things crystallized for me in that moment of staring at this row of animals.

a while back durango mom inspired me with her october challenge. i was not ready at the time to join her, and i really don't know if i am ready now. but if it seems like there is ever a time to do some things to keep oneself grounded and healthy, it might be the month of december. so i am planning a december challenge of sorts.

body: yoga every day, even if it is one single pose. sit ups every day. the muffin top has got to go. one three mile walk a week. i live at the foot of the blue ridge mountains for pete's sake.

home: turning the back room into the room i want it to be and reordering the three closets downstairs. i function so much better when my work/living space is wisely used and in order.

technology: limiting my time on the computer during tristan's waking hours. i have a way of playing with him, and then wandering over and getting lost in the junk, returning to him, and then back to the box. turning it off completely around him would be the best thing. i am still figuring out when it will be on, but for starters, it will be off a lot more.

mind: all of the above, with some good reading, writing and moments of reflection added in!

there will be a lot going on this month with sewing for a couple of holiday markets, and preparing for the solstice season. i am so very behind when it comes to the gift gathering/making. so a few things need to be cut out, and a few things need to be added, all in the hope of remaining balanced and healthy. and so, december challenge, we're on!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

delightful thrift

i went to one of my favorite thrift stores yesterday in search of vintage sheets. i'm making some baby blankets from thrifted linens for a hip holiday gifts sale, and am seeking some more fabrics. unfortunately i had no luck what-so-ever in the linen department, but i did stumble upon a chair. it matches our burgundy and olive living room furniture, and for ten dollars, is in excellent condition.

it is not often that i find a piece of furniture that i like or that i can actually afford. i was pleased to remove the glider chair, rarely used these days, and substitute it with this happy addition.

it seems luna cat is satisfied with it as well.