pantry predilections

Before I moved, I decided to tackle the hodge-podge of plastic bags and containers in my pantry. Recycled bottles and some dish towels (Thomas O’Brien Vintage Modern) were crafted into new containers for organic bulk ingredients. These pieces were more attractive, took up less space, and made quantities easier to track.

This little endeavor also inspired some gifting ideas. I realized how easily I could use the items at hand, as well as some glassine envelopes, tins and tubes, to package and tag flavorful grains, teas, and spices for others. The tea-stained tags (created with canvas printer sheets I found on a clearance aisle) were used to identify the contents, provide cooking instructions, and in some instances, share a favorite recipe.

I may add a grommet and clip to one of the bags and use it to store small mesh lingerie bags and clothespins in my laundry closet. We shall see.

It appears that order and chaos are the yin and yang of my current renovation existence.

Images:  Somerset Home 2016 Copyright © 2016 Stampington & Company, LLC


white kale

I've finally chosen a color for the studio--White Dove. Perhaps it's a suitable name. I do not know. The doves that reside here are gray with white tinged wings. I believe I would call it White Kale or Celery Heart. No matter, it's quite beautiful--shifting, changing with the ever-altering light.


recycled remedy

During the past few winters, I’ve found the frost nipping at my toes at bedtime particularly vexing. Forever shivering and sleep deprived, I decided to seek a possible remedy. One that intrigued me was lavender scented rice warmers. I decided to craft some from recyclable materials, including an old torn pillow cover (loved the blue and white stripes), a single flat sheet, and some unused curtain ties. Although it wasn’t necessary, I decided to embellish the covers with vintage flowers, buttons and some bookbinding ribbon I brought back from London. I thought the decorative designs could warm my heart when the rice wasn’t warming my toes.

This winter, I’ve found my new home to be surprisingly toasty, so there’s no need for the warmers. However, there’s nothing to lament, because the rice inserts can be placed in the freezer and utilized as cooling pads this summer.

If you would like to learn more about these scented soothers, as well as a variety of other imaginative projects, curl up with a copy of Somerset Life’s Winter 2016 edition and a cup of hot tea. It’s a warm and wonderful way to spend a winter day.  

Image:  Somerset Life Winter 2016 Copyright © 2016 Stampington & Company, LLC


winding path

It’s the Epiphany. It is a day, a season, I usually recognize with the creation of handcrafted cards or a small gathering.  However this year, there will be neither. I will only pause and reflect with this brief post.

Before my recent move and its accompanying renovation adventures, I had planned to create cards from strips of gold and white paper and sparkling blue crystals.  Maybe next year I’ll craft those imagined greetings when materials for their making are retrieved from cardboard boxes and my studio is intact, free of dust and debris. Maybe . . .

For now, I’ll turn to a similar palette but a dissimilar image. Here in the midst of winter, I’ll put forth a vision of England’s blue skies, golden yellow blooms and a winding path. It will be my simple salute to those who wind and wonder, seeking life and spirit.


the briar grove

For my sister, with love, on her birthday.

Christmas Day is projected to be unseasonably warm, and while snowflakes drifting from the night sky might be more picturesque, I believe the temperate weather is a blessing. You see, I’m in the midst of moving into a “new” old home, one that is requiring immediate and significant repairs.

Warm December days are not unusual in our region of the country. Actually, one of my favorite holiday memories is associated with such a day.  One year, following the family’s holiday feast, my sister and I decided to go for a walk. Accompanying us was her faithful black Labrador, Taja.  Normally, our little excursion would have entailed a stroll down our farm’s lane, but that day, due to the mild temperature, we decided to set out on a hiking trail that followed the adjacent lake’s shoreline.  We were pleased with our decision, delighting in the deep green moss and shimmering blue water that dotted our path. Much later, becoming aware of the late hour, we chose to leave the designated trail and seek what we assumed would be a short cut to our farm’s adjoining property. Only after weaving aimlessly through an unfamiliar thicket did we realize our supposition had been incorrect. Had it not been for Taja’s keen canine instincts, we may have never arrived at the opening leading to our pastureland. However, our initial relief swiftly dissolved into dismay, as we viewed the thick, dense briar grove that separated us from our final destination.

While the ever agile Taja moved easily through the prickly undergrowth, my sister and I became ensnared again and again by the brambles and thorns that clutched at our clothing. Nevertheless, we inched our way forward, freeing each other from the vines that entangled us, until at last we stepped into an open field.

My sister and I will not be together this Christmas Day, but I'm thinking of her as I exit yet another “briar grove”. In this instance, the terrain I am leaving is comprised of asphalt and brick instead of barbed vines. This “Briargrove” is the street on which I’ve lived for over thirteen years. When I came upon it during my life journey, I was deeply conflicted. While it and its associated trappings offered a more secure life for myself and others, it also demanded I leave much of what I deeply loved.  And unbeknownst to most, at the time, was my personal connection to the grove’s eastern boundary, a place that had claimed the life of a family friend, its thorny landscape playing background to his suicide. Yet, even then, I took up residence within the grove. Only later, through a grace shaped by relationship, instinct, and love, did I begin to free myself from much of what ensnared me.

I always believed I would leave the briar grove, but my departure has taken an unexpected turn, far from the ending I supposed. Interestingly, the same might be said for my sister. As this holiday commences, both she and I are crafting new homes, each within walking distance of bodies of water—mine near a river, hers, a gulf bay. Together, yet apart, we will once again view glistening waters on a warm holiday.

It’s Christmas-- and as I stand among towering unpacked boxes and patched walls, I find myself wondering what lies ahead, as my sister and I embark upon new paths—hers set against the sea, mine, an ivy-covered cottage. Hmm . . , I suppose I don’t really need to know, but instead be grateful for fellow travelers, flowing waters, and a precious sister that has accompanied me thus far. Perhaps, in continuing communion with them, I will complete my journey home.


taking stock

Fifty-five-- it’s a speed, and it’s an age. I wondered if the two are connected.  When you’re fifty-five do you travel along life’s highway at a pace that’s not too slow or not too fast? Is it the perfect speed for the middle path?

Maybe-- until the lane changes.

Traveling at 55

I wouldn’t be who I am now,
if I hadn’t been who I was then.
As if I can define either time,
now or then,
or any form,
who or what,
or any possibility,
when or if.

Long past is discussion of
who I want to be,
for who I might be,
or consideration of
who I should be
or could be.

there is just me-
unimpeded by want,
or wait,
or should,
or could.

there is just living-
the now and the then,
the who and the what,
the when and the if-

just as they are,
just as they may be.

- lkr 2015