Mid-spring

So here we are in the heart of spring, another lovely April gone by. I used to have a favorite month, though I don’t remember what it was. These days I try to focus all my love on the present, on the current month and season. Somewhere along the way I learned that this makes me happier.

I’ve been admiring our tousled little garden. It’s messy and busy and just so perfectly pretty right now. The dandelions are growing wild alongside the borage, which is popping up through the wild strawberry, which is overrun by clover. Nasturtiums continue to grow everywhere, over everything, and especially up the crepe myrtle and the mandevilla trellis. (The mandevilla aren’t too excited about this.) The camellias are that delicious white frosting and bubblegum pink, unfurling and dropping to the ground in armfuls. (Oh, why do their blooms drop so quickly?) And of course, there are the roses – magnificent as always.




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As much as I try to blog more frequently, I always find myself on the once-a-month schedule. So much life happens, it’s hard to pause sometimes. Is it that way with you?

Our latest design for Cross Stitch Crazy magazine is now available in the States (issue 241.) We loved designing this! Stylistically, it was a bit of a change for Dennis and I, but very good for the creative muscles. (We can’t take credit for the gorgeous mobile itself; It was created by the talented designers at Crazy.)



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All Weather Friends stitched-up delightfully swiftly. (I need to finish it properly before I show you the all-done photo.) We’re so excited to debut other cross stitch designs in this series! I should mention they are holiday-themed, and will arrive at the shop in mid to late summer. I’ll keep you posted, of course.



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My Coney Island granny hexie throw continues to grow in that slow and deliberate way that I love. I’m a very swift stitcher when it comes to needlework, but quite the slowpoke at crochet. And I’m totally fine with that, because it means I get to really enjoy the process. Yarn is still one of my favorite things in the world, and working with it involves so much pausing and squishing and admiring. (Am I alone in this?)

The colors of this project delight me to no end! It really does remind me of a seaside carnival, and all the lovely flavors, sights, colors: Hot fudge, cotton candy, and banana splits are represented, along with cool overcast skies, sand, and salty seawater.



A few years ago I bought the most deliciously soft merino/alpaca blend yarn – Rooster Almerino, from LoveCrochet. I’ve held onto it, never knowing quite what to do with it. Until now. It occurred to me I needed an instant-grat project, what with the two hexie throws stretching on to eternity. Enter Saltwater Taffy, a simple granny shawl with a lavish trim/border. (See the free pattern here.)

I have about five skeins of the color “Shimmer” – a pale dove gray – and as it goes rather well with my skin-tone, decided it would be the main color. I chose the very sassy “Brighton Rock” pink for the trim. It has a summery feel to it. Summers here are too hot for cotton, much less alpaca and wool, but my hope is we’ll finally take that day-trip to the seaside this July, and I’ll have this lovely shawl to wrap around my shoulders against the chilly ocean breezes.




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I had to share a couple photos of this boy of ours (the indoor one.) This poofy, floofy, round-bellied snowcat whom we adore. Coolba turns seven this year, and ohmygosh it makes me want to cry. You know how it is with kids & pets – Don’t grow up too fast, you little monsters.




I kiss that nose about twenty times a day.

And on that note, have a light and lovely day! ‘Till next time…

Christmastime

It’s almost Christmas. Where did the time go? And isn’t it always so swift?

There’s been so much going on here, and yet, we’ve managed to carve out moments of peace and relaxation. It’s a nice thing to deliberately slow down. And why not during the holidays, when everything begs to be admired and enjoyed? Lately, I’ve been curling up on the floor in front of our little Christmas tree. Turns out, looking up into a twinkly tree, with sparkling ornaments, is every bit as magical when you’re an adult as when you were a child. If you have a chance, do give it a try. (Maybe with a cup of hot cocoa in hand? Or a soft kitty to hold in your lap. But not both.)


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So this has been happening. Wintry, stitchy magic. I love the gently unfolding story of cross stitch samplers. The trotting palomino is my absolute favorite. These days I stitch with the sun in my eyes. It comes through the dining room window at a sharp angle, over the neighbor’s rooftop and across the garden wall, as it always does this time of year.

Winter arrived rather suddenly on Wednesday afternoon. The sky darkened – something it hadn’t done in ages – and burst open in a torrent of wind and rain. Bright orange and yellow leaves blew across the road, trees bent forward, rain lashed against the windows. It was brilliant. Normally our first storm arrives around October 31st. For a while there we felt we’d lost winter: The sun shone perennially, the weather was fair, flowers were blooming, and everything was decidedly springish. Now that the cold has truly arrived, there’s a bit of hope for a good solid winter – the kind that keeps us bundled up in soft throws and hand-knit mufflers. (And the kind that has me dreaming of cozy sleigh-rides through frosted woodland…)


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I’ve got my 2018 reading list off to a happy start. Happy is the operative word here. I want sweet and thoughtful stories, with perhaps touches of melancholy, and overall life-affirming. Goodness knows I get enough local, national, and international news, painting an all-too vivid image of what’s wrong with our world. But what’s right with the world is every bit as valid and important, and it’s good to focus on that. It’s also good to remember that all the small, kind, joyful, thoughtful, pretty, everyday things we do and create – they add up. Like a field of flowers. Or stars in a dark sky.

I discovered Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery series quite by accident. And thank goodness for that, because they look absolutely delightful, and I can’t wait to jump right in come January. (Throughout December I’m reading Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles, and re-reading my all-time favorite, Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.)


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The zinnias we sowed last spring are still blooming. They’re growing quite wild, actually. (The cold hasn’t frightened them much, but once the frost arrives…) I stopped tending to them months ago, as life and work got rather busy. I’m not making excuses though, as I love a wild-looking garden. Ages ago, when I first started gardening, I made sure to pinch, pluck, trim, and prune. And everything was neat and pretty. Then I discovered the ruffled, tousled look of the cottage garden, fell madly in love, and decided to be more hands-off. Aside from occasional pruning and deadheading, we just sort of let things be, and enjoy the unfolding story of plants doing what plants do.

It’s a wee bit early, but I’m already planning our spring garden. It’s hard not to think about it, actually. We’ve decided to return to our well-loved container garden. We’ve grown so many wonderful things in containers, and it’s always been the most efficient form of gardening for our environment. Much more on all of that later.




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Does anyone else look forward to seasonal Dum Dum flavors? Apple Cider is a winner. Also, I’m pretty sure Sugar Cookie is actually Butterscotch. That’s too bad, because a sweet vanilla flavor would’ve been nice.

I’ve bought a lovely new planner by Katie Daisy. It’s filled with her colorful artwork, inspirational quotes, and plenty of space to write daily notes, lists, plans, whatever. I make sure to take some notes each day: what I’ve done, what I have to do, etc. I have a tendency to want to do all the things. A planner reigns that in a bit. It’s good for me.



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Then there’s Fluffo. She’s a bit bossy, but terribly cute. And I love how she sits like a furry tank.

And my favorite Christmas book from when I was a child – The Care Bear Cousins and the Snowy Christmas. The pages are yellowed, but still colorful and full of magic. (It’s been hanging around my bookshelf for over 30 years. Goodness.)





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I’m still working on my Rock Candy muffler. (Isn’t “muffler” so much cozier than “scarf”? I love it.) I’ll share more of that in the next post. In the meantime, I bumped into an issue of Mollie Makes which featured this beautiful Folk Circle Pot Holder by Emma Lamb. So I worked it up in two evenings. The colors were inspired by the cheerful jar of candy canes – Christmassy, but also perfect for next summer, (though I imagine I’ll have made about twenty of these by then.) Oh, and I should note that I skipped the whole ‘pot holder’ part of things, as I was mainly looking for a pretty granny circle doily for around the house. It worked out splendidly.




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There’s a lot more going on, but I think I’ll pause for now and wish you a very Merry Christmas. We hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you’re well and happy. Remember to take good care of yourself, every bit as much as you care for others. (I know that sounds a bit backward for this time of year, but I find that if we are kind and loving with ourselves, we have so much more love and kindness to give to others.)

For me, this Christmas is about reflecting on all the wonderful gifts we already have. Like my darling 13 year-old niece reminded me, sometimes when we see something too often, we don’t notice it anymore. I’m all for changing that. Let’s count the blessings, one by one.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

xoxo
Sosae (& Dennis)



Hello, December

It’s wonderful to see December again. It still feels a lot like autumn, though. Trees are covered in gold and red leaves, and the days require a light cardigan. But the nights hint of winter. And winters are cold, foggy, and covered with frost. And somewhere in there I’ll get to wear my knit scarves and mittens, so that’s something. Dennis reminds me that once winter arrives, I’ll resume my annual Winter Lamentation, (something about frozen toes and too many bothersome layers of things.) But as of now, I’m still blissfully unaware of what I’ve forgotten, and perfectly pleased to indulge my wintry daydreams.

I’ve made a bit of progress on my crochet table runner, and I must say, every moment of it is lovely. It’s so sweet and simple and the perfect way to relax after a busy day. To note, I’m working with my two favorite yarns: Knitpicks Brava Worsted and Paintbox Aran. (Paintbox Aran is a touch thicker, but they work up well together with a 4.5mm hook.) These yarns are so divinely soft, snuggly, and buttery-smooth to work with, that this former fancy-wools-only snob is completely sold. Wool still has its place (because adorable sheep!) but quality acrylic is pure yarn-confectionery delight. (Did I mention the intense colors? Heaven.)



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Coolba – our sweet, snowy, indoor-only boy cat – has resumed his wintry tendencies. Early in the morning, when the house is still dark and cold, he climbs out of his bed (an oversized, padded shoebox – fancy, I know,) and nestles beside me, under my chin. I pull the blankets up, wrap my arms around him, and like a big warm teddy bear, I hug him ’till wakeup. Because of his size, he takes up a full 1/4 of the bed. You can imagine how this cramps things. But he is our little prince, and I do so love to snuggle with that poofy, soft, furry, purry boy.


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There’s all sorts of decorating going on around here, thanks to the winter holidays. I’ve brought out the bare birch tree and placed it in a corner of the living room. It’s decorated with rustic silver and gold mercury glass baubles, and shiny brass stars. We call it our New Year’s tree. And then there’s the Christmas tree: a darling little faux pine we bought years ago from Pottery Barn. It’s decorated with red and green mercury glass baubles, wooden cottages, golden pinecones, and our Woodland Fox, Owl, and Hedgehog softies. (I must say, the critters feel right at home in this twinkly, woodsy wonderland.)

At nights, I love to brew a hot cup of tea and curl up on the couch with Nigel Slater’s latest, The Christmas Chronicles. Once in a while I’ll look up, admire our little tree and the sparkling decorations, and enjoy the tranquil loveliness of it all.


And then there’s the canal boat. This is one of our favorite little treasures, shipped from the Sylvanian Families shop in London, brought out for the festive season. We can’t resist a bit of English charm. Nor can I resist a lovely new magazine to pour over and admire. I recently discovered Daphne’s Diary – a beautiful, colorful, artistic, cottage-chic feast for the eyes. It’s published in the UK, but you can find it at all fine booksellers here in the States. Along with my usual crafting favorites, it’s become something I truly look forward to. Inspiration is so important to the creative mind (and I would say, to every mind.) So I make it a point to pause during the work day, and allow myself the time to enjoy the art of others. Whether it’s a new favorite magazine, book, or blog, it’s always inspiring, and good for the spirit.



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In between reading and crochet, I’ve been my usual stitchy self. Have I mentioned how much I love festive stitching? I think I have… Dennis thinks it’s cute how I always love our latest design the most. Isn’t that just how it always is? So naturally, Jingle All the Way has all my attention at this moment. It’s just the cheeriest thing. Small samplers are thoroughly enjoyable. We have plans for many more seasonal samplers like this one – relatively quick-stitches with gobs of charm. (I love gobs of charm.)



We hope you’re enjoying this first week of December, wherever you are, whatever the season in your part of the world. ‘Till next time!