Well I Did It


I finished the ballerina (Misty Copeland, of course) on December 31st and opened my online shop on January 1st. It was not an easy deadline to meet! But I made it, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far. Fortunately, what I’ve done has only whetted my appetite for more, and I have zillions of ideas for pieces I want to create going forward. Few things make me happier than settling down on the sofa with coffee and a new project to work on.

Even so, in the interest of avoiding burnout, I am taking a little time off from embroidery to indulge myself in…another craft! Makers gotta make, after all. My lovely soon-to-be in-laws gave me some gorgeous sock yarn for Christmas, and I spent much of Sunday afternoon knitting the cuff of a new sock. It was so nice to just follow someone else’s pattern for a change, knowing everything will turn out well if I just mindlessly obey the instructions. Some people hate that, but I love it. One gets tired of having to be in charge all the time, of having to judge every little decision one makes about where to take one’s creation. Says, without a trace of irony, the new business owner.

Anyway, we had a great New Year’s Eve and Day. On the Eve, after I’d spent the entire day feverishly finishing the above pictured piece and setting up the shop’s site, Paul made chili while I made cinnamon roll dough, and we curled up on the sofa with a bottle of wine, a bowl of popcorn and a movie. We went to bed at 12:05 am, like an old married couple in our early thirties. Then in the morning, I baked the cinnamon rolls, and we had them with eggs, bacon, and mimosas. Then, horrified at ourselves, we went jogging. The next day, striving for balance, I made Mimi’s beet salad with creme fraiche. We were going to jog again this morning, but when the alarm went off early and we heard the cold rain drumming on the windowsill, we just rolled over. Oh well. Baby steps.

Christmas vacation

img_1108Isn’t this view of the Chester River pretty? On Christmas Day, in Chestertown, Maryland, a small party of Hostetlers and I took a leisurely stroll down to the water to get some fresh air and move around after far too much sitting around and snacking. The familiar holiday sloth had definitely settled in, and taking a walk was so refreshing. The bracingly chilly wind off the water, the crisp blueness of the sky, the sense of light and space after so much time cooped up in the car on the way, and in the house after we got there, the quiet of the town and the river after so much noise and chatter indoors…it was exactly what I needed.

My favorite Christmas carols all seem to invoke space and silence and tranquility. The midnight clear. The silent night. The holy night, in which the stars are brightly shining. Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow. I like the lullabies more than the jubilant songs of joy to the world. What I think I look for most of all in Christmas is peace–which is admittedly hard to find–and if not peace, at least a pause in the whirling rush of the season, and the sometimes too-quick turning of the year. I look for a little space, a little quiet, a little time to catch my breath and say, “Ah yes, this life I’m living, it’s good. These years that are passing, the people who keep me company, the role I’m playing in my small corner of the world, the little things I occupy my time with, the small ways I influence the other beings who’ve been placed in my tiny sphere…it is all, in general, good.” I have to wonder sometimes. Some days, the harder days, I just don’t know. At Christmas, I like to find some quiet and some space to say to myself, “No really, it’s all good.”

I’m going to try to find more moments like this in the new year, because I think I need more of them. I don’t know if I have it in me to make a resolution to, say, start meditating regularly. I am the type of person who will break my resolutions within a week and beat up on myself about it and mentally throw my hands up in the air and say, “What hope is there for a person with such a pitiful lack of self-discipline?” This is hardly constructive, so I don’t bother anymore.

And yet…I’d like to live in such a way that 2017 has plenty of moments that feel like that walk. I’d like more patches of quiet and calm and light and space and reflection and breathing deeply and not trying to get anywhere in particular…just enjoying the walk itself.

That’s my resolution for 2017: enjoy the walk itself. Hopefully my embroidery ambitions will fit in with that goal. Right now I’m a little anxious about finishing my piece and getting the site ready for launch on January 1. But I’d like to let you know that for the first week that Satin & Stem is open for business, the 1st through the 7th, 10% of all proceeds from sales in my shop (crossing my fingers that there are no technical snafus) will be donated to the International Rescue Committee, to support relief efforts for evacuees from Aleppo. I’d like to start this new year on a kind and generous note, and I hope you will too.

Happy New Year! xoxo,


Wishing for snow


It doesn’t get much better than a snow day. We haven’t had one yet, but there’s the potential for snow here tonight and nothing would make Paul’s birthday tomorrow better than for me to have the day off and nothing to do but tromp through the snow and drink cocoa. The idea is so inspiring to me that I’ve been stitching a little snow scene of a girl walking her pup in a wintry landscape. This has been so fun to make so far, to watch the little details bring the picture to life. I’m especially fond of that scarf. The snowy background is kind of slow going, but I’m really eager for the final touch of the piece, which is going to be a liberal sprinkling of white French knots over the whole scene, so that it will look like snow’s falling.

But there won’t be much time for stitching today, as Paul and I are throwing a little party to celebrate both the holidays and his turning 30 tomorrow. I have made enough cookie dough for roughly a gajillion cookies, both sugar and gingerbread, and have also made the cake for a Boston cream pie. Still to do: royal icing for cookies, pastry cream and ganache for Boston cream pie. Oh, and we have to throw lights and ornaments on our little tree, which was about three times the hassle we thought it would be to set up last night. I brought it home from the lot on Thursday evening, and since it wouldn’t fit in the stand we already had, we put it in a bucket of water overnight and then Paul bought a new stand for it yesterday. Then it turned out that it hadn’t been trimmed enough to fit in that stand, so Paul took a hacksaw to it last night, out in the yard in 20-degree weather, and trimmed it till it fit in the stand. But then we didn’t line up the screws with the trunk the right way and the thing toppled over as we were bringing it back inside and we had to try again with the stand. Later, after having swept up Douglas fir needles from all over the downstairs, we recovered our faculties with cocoa that was heavily laced with Kahlua, and at 9 p.m. I finally got around to making cake. But it’s not the holidays if you’re not slightly frazzled and irritable some of the time, right?

Now, all is calm, all is bright. The cat’s purring in my lap for a few more minutes before I kick him off and get dressed to take the birthday guy out to Spudnuts for breakfast. He deserves a blueberry doughnut, for sure.