food for thought friday

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“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.”
― Paulo Coelho

Waking up this morning to freshly fallen snow, watching my excited boys get ready to spend the day at the ski hill, drinking a cup of delicious rose-coloured tea, admiring a leaf the same beautiful colour, savouring the hidden brightness of a grapefruit, feeling the satisfaction of finishing a special project, loving the “snow -light” that fills my home  – all the while thinking how miraculous that such simple things make life so very good!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend full of life’s simple miracles. What extraordinary “little” things are filling your moments these days?

first snowshoe – part one: musings on the winter landscape

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This past weekend, while the rest of my herd headed to the slopes, I took to the hills and backwood trails, a first snowshoe of the year. Wandering about, I marvelled at how the absence of blue skies completely alters the mood of a winter’s day. Like most people, I prefer a bright, sunny day but these grey days, well, they have a sombre beauty all their own.

[W]hat a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel. ~John Burroughs

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.       ~Andrew Wyeth (more images here)

While I’m not sure I would ever say that I prefer winter as Wyeth does, I do appreciate his idea that “the whole story doesn’t show”. There is something wonderfully mysterious about winter, knowing that deep down in the belly of the soil, life is waiting to come again. Nature isn’t dead, just resting.

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So, despite the sombre landscape, it was a good walk. I rejoined my family feeling brighter and refreshed. Nature is a mighty powerful medicine and I look forward to getting my next dose -soon!

Now, before I close, I want to say thank you for all the incredibly kind and encouraging comments (and emails, texts and phone calls) shared in response to my last post. There’s a Japanese proverb that says one kind word can warm three winter months. Given all the kind words I’ve received, I’d say I’ll be warm for many winters to come. Thank you, your words bring more joy and comfort to me than I can express.

Wishing you a bright and warm winter’s day!

slowing down

In the days leading up to this post I’ve been struggling a bit to find the right words to describe where I’m at lately, words that are wise and kind and perhaps even helpful. Since I’m still waiting for these words to come, I’ll say this instead: these days, some parts of my life have been tough (which is why I haven’t been posting much and why I’ve pretty much abandoned Instagram), while other parts, miraculously joyful.

Some of us here in this household, including me, are feeling quite ill and generally feeling a little down and out. At times like these I find it most helpful to slow down and drop everything that doesn’t feel truly necessary. Slowing down helps me to pay attention and “take joy” (a phrase I’m borrowing from my friend Valerie) in the many, many little simple things that are good all around me. I’m not sure quite why, but taking time to appreciate all these good things helps me refill my otherwise empty tank.

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This yarn, a light fingering weight, locally “grown” Shetland wool is one of those simple and really good things. Right now, I’m using this yarn for a very special project I’m knitting and each and every stitch I make makes me feel a little lighter, a little happier.

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I call it my smiley yarn, my silver lining yarn. It feels alive. I love it. I hope whoever this project is given to will love it just as much and perhaps even remind them to slow down a little themselves, and take time to smell the flowers.

Slowing down helps me find rest, something I clearly need in both body and soul. Needless to say, I’m thankful that knitting is restful, too.

Slowing down gives me time when I can appreciate how necessary it is to have good friends who I can reach out to, friends who listen with compassion and understanding and who are willing to share the wisdom they’ve gained from their own experiences.

Slowing down gives me time to reflect how very lucky I am in this area of my life.

Slowing down gives me a little more time to savour the thoughtful and meditative gift of tea – and their tea tags! Slowing down gives me time to dig deeper inside and reconnect to those parts of me that sometimes take the back seat.

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What about you? Do you practice slowing down when life throws you a series of curve balls? What does slowing down give you?

Wishing you a most lovely, slow week.

p.s. I’d also be thrilled to know what your smiley yarn is, if you’d like to share, of course!

how to embrace cabin fever

 

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The view out my window, cold and crisp and clear.

Did I say cold? Bone chilling cold. Not much out of doors exploring for us winter wimps. Instead, I’ve been trying to embrace the onset of cabin fever with my favourite recipe for winter comfort.

I thought I’d share this recipe with you today (feel free to adjust the measures as you see fit):

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1. Pile on the hand knits.

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2. Start a new project.

DSC_03493. Put on your favourite woollen socks (hint: ones made by friends are ALWAYS warmer, I think its the love) and wear your favourite comfy clothes. At the young age of thirty-seven I’ve only just discovered the pure bliss of sweatpants, however, whatever clothing makes you feel cosy and warm – wear it!

DSC_03554. Find a favourite book to revisit and ask a friend to join you in reading it. A nice, long book will easily draw your attention away from how long days can feel when you’re tucked inside. A good friendly chat about your book via email makes the experience all the more pleasurable and the day feel less lonely. Of course, if your friend is a literary genius, you’re also bound to learn something new.

5. Find your favourite snuggle bug (borrow one if necessary) and read their favourite book together (thank you Claire!). Added bonus: extra body heat!

6. Listen to something epic, preferably something that broadens your imaginative horizons beyond the four walls of home. I’ve been listening to Beethoven, this symphony in particular. Maybe you have your own preferences (feel free to share them please!).

7. Drink lots of warm beverages. I drink tea – this one is my new favourite lately.

8. Try to get outside, even for just a few minutes. The cold air outside will make the warm air inside feel even warmer.

9. Remember these words :

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”  – Edith Sitwell

Enjoy steps 1- 9 whenever possible!

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What about you? Do you have a recipe for winter comfort? If you do, will you please share it with me, I’d love to know. Wishing you a warm and cosy winter’s day!

a word (or two) for the new year

I’ve been having a lot of fun visiting blogs lately and reading about everyone’s new year’s resolutions and the words they’ve chosen to help them set goals and intentions for the year ahead. So, in keeping with that spirit, I thought I’d share my own words for 2015 here. Never being one who’s satisfied by the limits set by others, I’ve decided to choose two words instead of one.

My first word is ENOUGH. I hope to use this word as a guide through my decisions in 2015 by better learning how much is enough which also means, I think, learning about how much is more than enough and how much is not enough.

Not surprisingly, as December always feels like a month of excess, the word enough has been on my mind since the end of 2014 when there was more than enough stuff and stuff to do and not quite enough time to rest and recharge.

The last couple of months in 2014 was also a time when I happened to take a thorough account of my yarn stash that forced me to reckon how, clearly, I have more than enough yarn in my house. A goal for 2015? To work through a minimum of fifty percent of my “collection” (ahem).

So, if you don’t mind my sharing, here’s some of the yarn from my stash waiting in the wings:

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some perfectly gorgeous BFL waiting for just the right project to come along

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two dreamy skeins of Malabrigo alpaca and silk blend lace-weight have an extra special destiny

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my favourite: Shetland yarn for some fingerless mittens

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more of my favourite! prize yarn from Melody’s Shwook KAL to make another Shwook

Needless to say, I also need to work through my works in progress as well. Actually, if I can finish these off, I should consider this more than enough knitting for some time…

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the early stages of a Camilla Light Shawl by Carrie Bostick Hoge

another shawl in progress,  Terra by Jared Flood

another shawl in progress, Terra by Jared Flood

Florence Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge using Quince & Co's yarn, tern

Florence by Carrie Bostick Hoge using Quince & Co’s yarn, tern

the humble beginnings of a Birchleaf Cowl by Blue Peninsula

the humble beginnings of a Birchleaf Cowl by Blue Peninsula

Lila by Carrie Bostick Hoge

Lila by Carrie Bostick Hoge

…but then, the word should has never been one I’ve responded well to either (*laughing*, as a dear friend would say). So, of course I have knitting dreams for 2015 (like knitting this and another one of these and also another one of these – this time using enough yarn!) because I’m pretty sure one can NEVER have enough dreams.

My second word for 2015 is TRUST. However, today, I am going to trust I have shared more than enough words and photos for now and will save the discussion on my second choice of words for another time.

Until then, I’m wishing you the loveliest of days, with just enough of everything to fill your heart with joy and gladness. What are your words for 2015? I would love to know!

2014 – a year in knitting

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I thought I’d close the year by sharing some of my favourite knits of 2014*. While I did indulge in making myself a sweater early in the year and some colourwork towards the end of the year, truly I think this was my year of The Shawl.

As the year wore on and people saw I had cast on yet ANOTHER shawl, I started getting more and more questions like: how many shawls does a person need? how many shawls can a person wear?

Well, that’s a bit of a tricky question to answer. I think I’m sticking with as many as I like!

I had no idea shawl knitting was so much fun. Realizing this pretty much sums up what I’ve learned about knitting this year, too. There’s still so much more to discover. Despite the number of years I have been working two needles and a ball of string, clearly I still have lots to learn – about knitting, about fibre, about this community, about me. I don’t know about you, but for me the prospect of opening new doors in learning about an area so completely wonderful and fascinating (and full of wonderful and fascinating people) is completely thrilling.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Cheers to learning more about the all the things and people that excite us most. May 2015 bring lots of love and joy to all our lives.

*all of these projects can be found on my Ravelry project page, here.

Credo

 

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Here we are, the night before Christmas. Looking back upon the last few weeks I can tell you, life has been full – full of making, of giving and receiving, of days filled with both hectic activity and, mercifully, with calm, quiet reflection too.

It’s been in those quieter, reflective moments I have noted how, more than once, I have been told that Christmas is a time for children and a time of sacrifice. While I can hardly disagree with those statements because it’s true, Christmas is a time for children, I would like to add that I believe that Christmas is a time for the child in each of us – the child I hope is still alive and well in each our hearts. The child that still believes in the possibility of miracles, that still finds joy in the simple things, the child that still hopes and trusts that there is good to be found in every moment we are given here on this earth.

And it’s true too, that Christmas time is a time of sacrifice but I believe it’s a sacrifice that yields far more joy than pain. The list of our sacrifices might include our time, our efforts, even our money so that we may make a gift of ourselves to those around us – because I do believe each of us is a gift to this good earth. Few of us can deny that the look of heartfelt appreciation on the faces of those who have received the fruits of our sacrifices makes all the challenging work on our part worth the effort. I think of these sacrifices much like the hard labour of childbirth – who among of us would gladly give up our children, whom we love beyond understanding,  so we would not have to endure the pain of bringing them into the world? Yes, Christmas is a time of sacrifice, a time when we carve out parts of ourselves, of our wants and desires to make room for the gift of others in our lives.

A quote I have been coming back to throughout the year is this one:

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

– Anne Frank

I believe that in giving, in that act of sacrifice of ourselves, we make room for the possibility of love to take root between ourselves and that which we are giving to – be it a friend, a family member, a neighbour, someone we hardly even know, or perhaps it’s the natural world around us, both flora and fauna. When that love takes root, something truly magical happens – all of a sudden, that feeling of emptiness and hardship felt in the act of giving up is transformed into an immeasurable joy and peace that leaves us not poorer by the experience but so much more the richer.

And that, my friends, is my wish to you as we enter into this Christmas season, that we might feel great peace and joy as we share the gift our ourselves with those around us and in doing so, make room for love to grow bigger, brighter and stronger than we can possibly imagine. I wish that we might be rich in love.

Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for being here with me.

“God bless Us, Every One!”
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

a morning at Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm

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Thanks to the truly good folks at Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm, we had a most glorious morning and came home with a beautiful Christmas tree.

My family and I feel so incredibly blessed to live in a place where there are family-run farms like this nearby to visit and support and that, in turn, allow us to return home feeling refreshed by the wholesome beauty of their land.