Monday, January 31

yarrow and finch

a birdie told me

A cup of tea and time to write, time to slow down. I woke up with such a vision of clarity about my life ~ the kind of clear sight that can't be forced or begged. It simply showed up when I woke up, a big change from how muddled I've been lately. The winter blues are gone and I can think again! I spent the afternoon writing ~ what I want more of, what I want less of, and how I can do that. Remember to take breaks, check in with myself, to drink enough water. To get a daily walk. I have needed this clear overview.


I've had this percolating in my mind for a little bit now ~ I find so much fantastic stuff thrifting and most of it I just gaze at or hold for a minute before putting it back on the shelf. There's just too much good stuff for one person's home.

Enter Yarrow and Finch. My new used little shop for treasures from the thrift shops, estate sales and flea markets that find me.

Simply spoken, it'll be filled with things I myself would use and love. That's my criteria. It's my style of things: lots of Pyrex, Fire-King, turquoise and silver, brass animals, unusual jewelry, and lots of wooden and embroidered things. Each object has spoken to me in some way and that's why it's there ~ because of its quality, its quirkiness, its beauty or its story. It's something I would have in my own house. There are actually a few things that I just couldn't bring to place there and kept (that FireKing mug with the baltimore oriole...) But overall, this feels like an absolutely perfect flow and fit to me. I get to pass on treasures to the people they want to find.

I was going to wait a little longer to share, since I've yet loads to put in ~ it takes time to photograph, edit, measure, etc., but things are selling already and I go!

If this is your thing, you're invited!


Friday, January 28

snow with a forecast of snow

What a day. Chocolate bars are my salvation. I love thrifting. I love snow. I love to eat and that's what I'm going to do now. (Psst, it's chicken marbella.) It was a good day for thrifters who collect squirrels and ships. I unfortunately not being one of them.

I hope you had a wonderful day!

Have any interesting plans for this weekend?

I have fun news which I will post soon...


Wednesday, January 26

winter dreaming

today's snowfall

A few weeks ago, I took a class on Himalayan singing bowls held in an old local church. My attention was riveted on the three windows, their deep windowsills filled with aloes, jades, geraniums and plant pots of every charming ceramic sort. Today an errand took me past the church and I happened to have my Spectra camera with me ~ I slid my way up the snowy walk and went inside before realizing that it was out of film. But I will not give up on this! I will make another attempt at some point...

I spend a lot of time on my own in the house and could really go for some kind of event where I could dress up a bit, maybe wear my woollen dress with colorful stockings and my beloved Danskos. I'd love to have a pair of mittens like these to cheer up these wintry days too.

I just ordered some items from Gaia Herbs online and now want to visit their farm in North Carolina. I can see myself driving there this summertime to see the fields of flowering plants. Maybe doing some camping on the way.

Another place within driving distance that I want to visit when the weather warms up is Serpent Mound in Ohio. And The Cloisters in Manhattan. And Spain, I want to go to Spain. Just putting it out there.


Tuesday, January 25


from a camping trip last summer

I throw another log on the fire; it's a cold night here with both the cat and the dog curled up like cinnamon buns with their tails over their noses. I've been thinking about camping again ~ about how nice it is being barefoot and how green growing things and forest earth smell. About birds and water animals and furry things in the woods. Sunshine and dusk, cicadas and chipmunks, and how good fresh bread baked in the coals really is. About bare air on bare skin and lake-swimming and campfires. Mushrooms with red unfurling caps, late afternoon shadows, and watching the dogs silently sniff the breeze, nostrils quivering.

My big plan when we next go camping is to leave my Polaroid and digital cameras at home and only take my 35mm film camera. I like the philosophy behind it ~ be aware, wait, choose, compose, be selective. I like how it helps me see the world.

Soon, now, very, very soon.


Monday, January 24

random odds & bobs

The above polaroid is the only one I've gotten enlarged to hang in my own house, ever. Is that weird? 

I bought a fantastic teal couch while thrifting and carried it inside, over the snowbank, all by myself and totally blew my cover. Tim says I can never play the Helpless Girl card again.

I enjoy salads ~ they're useful for conveying croutons to my mouth.

My dogs eat the firewood, chewing on it furtively in odd corners. We use the chips as kindling.

Tim buys me flowers but I buy myself flowers more. And that doesn't bother me.

(Care to share an interesting tidbit about yourself too?)


Saturday, January 22

Spare Oom*, silence and thrifting

Tim in the spare room

Our spare room is quite small (as you can see), and we keep it sparse. The light is lovely in there. It's respected as a quiet space ~ if we're both in there reading or thinking or drinking tea, there won't be any talking. I really love this room. I love the idea of it ~ to bring silence and thought into daily life, to stop and be observant, and to be with someone (myself or Tim) without putting it all into words. A lot can happen in silence.

Right now I'm sipping pink tea from a polka-dotted cup in front of a deep orange fire with a newly thrifted cobalt-blue wool blanket over my knees. Mimi's next to me balancing on a pillow and pretending she's not trying to get onto my lap. This afternoon I popped an audiobook into my car and drove off intent on visiting a local museum at which I never arrived, getting distracted at thrift shops along the way and finally turning for home at 5 pm, car laden with treasures. I snagged a perfect-condition golden-upholstered yellow rocking chair for $7 ~ it has very smooth worn wooden arms which the previous owners must have worn off during hours of rocking. I love furniture with history.

Thrifting is the biggest and best treasure hunt. I feel like a little kid every time.

Have you found any treasures lately?

*Spare Oom is from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Friday, January 21

in the nick of time

The adult school booklet arrived in the mail today offering all kinds of classes, and I now have a sizeable list of local farms and musums to visit this spring gleaned from looking through the course descriptions. I've sorely needed this because every so very often I feel as if I've reached the limits of what I know, and I wonder if anything will ever be new and exciting again. But then something breezes through and gives me some fresh thoughts and I'm all recharged.



Wednesday, January 19

last night I dreamt

I dreamt about my grandmother last night. I walked through her house and noticed all the details ~ the blue fabric on the walls of her sewing room, the tiny bright kitchen with her Fiestaware and the wheat stalks on the small glasses, her bread bin, the Ivory soap in its dish, and in the corner, the BB rifle she'd use to scare off the pigeons at the feeder (leaving the kitchen window cracked open an inch to slide the barrel out.) I dreamt I was walking by the bookshelves, the batik puffin on the wall, the crocheted owl and the huge hanging ferns. Her dressing table where she sat to brush her long white hair, achieved by age forty, and dress it into her familiar french twist.  I heard the radio, saw the cardinals outside, soaked in the orange tiger-lilies and the white alyssum, smelled the gravy for the Sunday roast. I walked down into the basement where she kept the big metal trash can filled with birdseed: each morning I'd find a mouse in it and she'd set it free outside, only to find it there again the next day. Out into the backyard to the hammock, the black-cap bushes behind the fence in the woods, the fabric clothespin bag and the evergreens.

I miss that time. I miss her.


Monday, January 17


A huge mixed green salad loaded with sliced carrots, avocado, and croutons, eaten while looking out the back window ~ I pretend I can see red poppies growing out in the garden, presently covered in ice. The blue jay visits, looking like he's in the militia in his azure jacket. Inside, Lucy licks up all the wood bits fallen onto the fireplace bricks. (I've tried to get her to stop, but she takes such obvious pleasure in it...)

A short brisk walk in the snowy streets, picking up twigs and sticks as I go to use as kindling. Home to bring in armfuls of firewood before tonight's snowfall. Admire the shot of yellow upstairs. Pull the frozen jar of home-made beet soup out of the freezer to thaw for tomorrow's snowed-in lunch. Write a few postcards. Make plans with Tim to go to the coffeeshop tomorrow. Curl up with some embroidery and a movie tonight.

Keeping busy here. How about you?


Saturday, January 15

what things are looking like this week

really wish I could think of a better title
but my brain just isn't working today
so thought I'd just share photos
of what my brain has been working on
I've been doing some shop updates
and enjoying,
as ever,
many cups of tea.

I'm now off to "run errands"
(my excuse for have-to-get-out)
and will hit the thrift shop
so hope I find some essential treasures!

a happy saturday to you!


Tuesday, January 11

sun and snow and pancakes


tiny ladder

miniature ladder made from book page

Tim's been away for a few days snowboarding in Vermont; leaving before sunrise like I used to do on family vacations. He stayed in a little hotel by himself and hit the slopes, watching the clouds roll in over the mountaintops, left before the heavy snow, and brought home a jug of Vermont maple syrup for me. Always appreciated. We just took the dogs down the street to the park in the dark, brushing the snow off their coats and feeling the tiny snowflakes hit our faces. It is strange how like sand snow can be.

I predict sun and snow and pancakes for early tomorrow, followed by a tidy-up in the studio and hopefully some new projects drifting in by early afternoon.


oh help


We are expecting a big snowfall tonight ~ can anyone inspire me with what you do when you're feeling a bit, oh a wee winter stir-crazy? I need some outer inspiration!

I would also like to invite you over to persisting stars, where I had a very interesting conversation with my dear friend Madelyn Mulvaney.

Also, I've been reading this post repeatedly, and when I was looking through my photos I found this whimsical thing. I'd love to know the story behind it.


Sunday, January 9

such is life

my studio desk

White curtains of windswept snow swirls were hurrying across the road today as I took the cat home from her annual vet checkup. Daily life is filled with common moments like that ~ stoplights, vet appointments, dusting, paying bills. Some of it satisfies: the wall of finally hung framed things, the room painted, the car cleaned out. Some of it thrills: the bowl of mint ice cream, the cardinal at the feeder, newly painted toes and a letter in the mailbox. But most of it is part of the larger cycle of living, of continuance ~ laundry, dog walking, keeping the logs piled high in the mudroom, cooking, washing. Staying clean, warm, fed and dry takes a lot of upkeep. These things will need to be done again, and then again, for as long as I live. This is part of the rhythm of life.

I've been thinking about my grandmother, about her days raising four children, cooking, baking, washing. Her struggles and challenges and character and how, at the end of 89 years, she had accomplished something. I keep thinking about that something.

She wasn't famous, she didn't invent anything or create anything huge. She lived her daily life with grace, patience and a sense of humor. She looked for beauty and overlooked little petty things. She listened. I wanted to be around her. And that seems enough to me.

I've been asking myself the question lately, when stumped or overwhelmed with things to finish ~ what would this look like if it didn't have to be perfect? If it didn't have to impress anyone or have a bigger purpose than right now? If my day sometimes is just keeping up with the upkeep of living? If my work never becomes well-known or makes lots of money and that's okay? If, at the end of a long life, my life was filled with moments like this and I handled them with patience and a sense of humor?

What if this, this right now, is enough?


Friday, January 7

garage sales are the best

garage sale find

vintage inkwells

garage sale finds

Because that's where you can find amazing treasures like this. Especially if you're my mom. We just did our gift exchange over at their place last night, in front of the fire and the tree, and I was wowed by these finds ~ all for me!

I love Pyrex and especially turquoise, and I've heard of people finding Polaroid film at garage sales but I've never seen any ~ those precious boxes went right into my fridge.

I embroidered her a Moleskine notebook with a female Io moth on it. And forgot to take a picture.

What goodies did you give or receive over the holidays?


Thursday, January 6

thank you

Thank you all for your supportive comments. They were so encouraging and I kept coming back to read them over. Gramom lived such an inspiring life to me ~ she grew up on a farm, loved animals, cooked a mean pie, and her sewing room rocked: it was filled with dressers full of materials and had blue fabric as  wallpaper. She could sew anything, cook anything, do anything ~ I've walked creeks with her, climbed mountains, and hiked to Delicate Arch with her when she was 76. I am filled with stories and memories that I will cherish, and I do feel that her life has shaped mine in so many ways. I am so lucky to have had an influence like hers.

I've been kind of mopey for a few days but overall we're grateful she went so peacefully and gently ~ she had dealt with Alzheimers for so long that by the end last week, it just seemed right to go. She died two weeks from the day she had stopped eating. Two weeks. She was living on some kind of spiritual energy and was so with it and present. Everyone was home for Christmas break and so we all got to see her last week. Her four children and PopPop were with her when she slipped into a coma and then stopped breathing. How lucky to go safe, warm and surrounded by loved ones at the end of a long life! I can only hope for the same.

I keep thinking how I'm part of such a big cycle: youth, aging, friends, family, life, death. I'm young and I will be old. She was young once too. Our bodies age but our personalities stay youthful inside of us as we gain experiences and wisdom. I am happy to be alive, to be here, and to be on my journey where I am.

I got the best sympathy card from a friend:

I am so sorry. Death is painful. I hate it.

I have to say it made me smile because how else can one say it so simply and truthfully? Death is a part of life, we don't have to like it but it is deepening in so many ways.

As I write this Tim is throwing another log on the fire, Lucy is begging for attention, and my chamomile citrus tea tempts me as it steams. Life continues.


Tuesday, January 4




89 years

yep that's me on her shoulders!

ever stylish, as you can see

My dear grandmom, Eleanor, passed on yesterday. She will live on in so many ways. I am so grateful to have had her in my life. You can tell from these photos that she was such an amazing woman! It makes me smile just to think of her.


Monday, January 3

sunlight to lamplight

the cup of tea
a cup of tea

Whew! Back in from the cold ~ walking Lucy who is a hard ship to steer when ther're snowbanks. And old rather grungy ones at that. I could go for a fresh snowfall to clean up the outdoors a bit. The bright light of mornings eventually shifts to the blue hour ~ that hour of dusk when I feel antsy. I find myself waiting for something, unsure what it is. Perhaps it is the vestiges of ancient genetics ~ needing to hustle to be warm and safe before nightfall. Then the mood passes. The evenings take on a different tone, more inward, cozier, warmer. I build the fire, make a cup of decaf tea, tidy, and look for something I can bring from the studio to work with on my lap while I watch an old familiar film ~ a collage I'm sewing is always a good choice. My eyes adjust from sunlight to lamplight. I wait far too long to make dinner and then have to whip up something ravenously. It would be nice to have a cook!

Lately I've been working on altered book poems. My desk is covered with little cut-out words and I have trained myself to not sigh over the work to keep the poems from blowing away ~ one of which is a guest post over at Missouri Bend Studio.

I've also been looking up feathery and owly things, updating my odds & bobs sidebar for january (to the right), and loving my new ozetta scarf.

How's your week going thus far?


Saturday, January 1

the lucky fourteen, or, a year in review

mango-banana pancakes

storm over acadia

before 8 am

rock collecting

Muir Woods

These are my very favorite polaroids from this past year. I was trying to keep it to the top ten, but it was just too tough ~ I took, gulp, over 300 polaroids in 2010. I don't buy jewels or stay in swank hotels ~ polaroid film is my (non)guilty pleasure. I'm so glad that I found susannah's blog last year and discovered what an sx-70 polaroid land camera was. I'm also grateful that I've had the following women to inspire and challenge me with their words, lives and photographs this year:

I am very blessed to have lived a very full year. I have my health, my house, and my husband. I have warm friends, loyal pets, and beauty in my life. I have work that I love, and more clarity than ever before about my path and my passions.

Thank you for being here to share these things with me in this space.

xo brooke