A CUP OF SUGAR (a sweet life in Sherborn)

“You’re moving where?!” squawked my brother. “I’m going to need an Indian guide to find you. They have cows and horses and…and…farms!” Despite my brother’s reservations and despite the fact that we rarely ventured beyond the confines of our Boston-centric community, the bucolic town of Sherborn was ideal for my husband and me. Bursting out of the seams of our home with 3 toddling boys, an uber-active husband, and expecting our fourth child in 6 years (a girl, thank God), we were in need of some serious elbow room. Sherborn it was.

Fast forward 20 years. But, wait … how’d that happen? I remember those never-ending days when the kids were little, I mean endless days. Well-intentioned neighbors would say, “Oh, honey, enjoy your children, they grow up SO fast”.  I’m thinking, “Are you kidding!?” (ball whizzing past my head)  I could barely see straight, let alone be dreamy about my children’s lives.

But, here I am, 20 years later. A 15 yard dumpster (the big one!) in my front yard … overflowing. Preparing to leave not just our home, but our town … of cows and horses, and yes, farms. But also, of people. The community. The folks who, when I courageously and inevitably let my 7-year-old ride his bike the mile and a half into the center of town (alone!) to meet friends while I kept watch over his younger siblings, called to let me know he was okay. Neighbors who hired my kids to do jobs that could have been done faster—and better—by a professional, landowners who allowed us to enjoy their property for hiking, skiing, swimming and skating. Schools and churches … who cared for us in sickness and in health. Who nurtured my husband and me as much as they did our children. Neighbors, who instinctively kept watch allowing my children to run free without my constant supervision, who made time to share a cup of coffee over the fence, who rescued our cat from our rooftop, and from whom I could borrow a cup of sugar.

It’s that sweetness … that kindness … that caring soul of a community, that I’ll miss most. But I know from the bottom of my heart that my children, my husband, and I are better people because of our community. Experts will quote test scores, house prices, and education levels, but me, I’ll take the intangible sweetness of life in Sherborn any day.

As always, with love…Barb

20 years

New England Prep meets Energy Crisis

Growing up in the ’70s, Jimmy Carter instructed us to turn down the thermostat and don our wool sweaters. As a mid-Atlantic family newly transplanted to thrifty-minded New England we dutifully obliged. Who wouldn’t? Fair Isles sweaters and the Prep look were all the rage and the harsh New England winters made you glad for all that warmth.

New England thrift became part of my being. My mother advised saving my colorful fairisle and colorblock sweaters, “so that your daughter can wear them someday.” As an avid rescuer of all things vintage, my favorite high school sweaters now serve as inspiration and resources for my crafty home accessories. (My daughter has no interest in wearing these dated, and itchy, sweaters.)

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Pillows are versatile home accessories that can be changed for a seasonal update and are a perfect use of your vintage supplies. Most wool sweaters felt easily. They make a nice dense fabric from which you simply cut appliqués—stars, trees, geometric shapes and other simple designs—and attach with either a sewing machine or hand embroidery. Feel free to embellish with buttons, embroidery thread or any other vintage supply you have on hand for a truly personal, and vintage, touch.

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What happens when you stop taking pictures, and use words to capture a moment instead?

Good photography and I mean GOOD photography is a work of art.  Capturing more than just the moment to convey feeling and tell a story is not for the amateur “Iphoneographer”.  As a visual learner, I enjoy seeing so many people pay attention to their surroundings (well, except when their surroundings are themselves…grrrr…selfies!)  To be a great photographer takes time and skill, however, the moment is only as poignant as the viewer is patient;   a tough sell in our fast-is-better world.

A moment crafted with words expands time.  A well-written story leads a reader deeper into the moment adding dimension unlike any other art.  The reader is gently guided with the interplay of words, sounds and punctuation to explore the writer’s world. The senses are awakened…sights, sounds, touch and even taste come together to create a picture.  The possibilities are endless.

Repurposed Wrapping . . . Have Yourself a Greener Holiday

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I adore wrapping paper…the colors…the designs…the store displays.  They work their magic and woo me as I pass through the shops.  If I so much as walk near Paper Source, I feel my heart race and my hands perspire.  BUT…as a lifelong tree-hugger with a reduce, reuse, recycle kind of mentality, I force myself to stop.  Visions of crafty supplies…rescued ribbons, vintage fabric scraps, saved pompoms dance through my head.  I have a hoarder-like style of saving everything, well, you just don’t know when something will come in handy, do you?

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So…into my studio I go to collect accessories that fit the season or occasion… left over wrapping paper, fabric scraps, buttons, ribbons (I even once saved a student’s rejected watercolor and turned the paper into hangtags).  Not only do I save a bundle (to spend on rescuing more vintage items) but I created a unique OOAK (one-of-a-kind) gift.

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Save a tree this holiday season and have yourself a greener holiday!

As always…with love, Barbwrapping4

Holiday Memories with Recycled Vintage Fabrics

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Our family’s favorite time together is dinner time…the food, the wine, the conversation.  I know the trend for “open concept” living is all the rage, but for us, the dining room, closed off from the busy-ness of our lives, is where we love to gather and share.

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The dining table has been a foundation of creativity for as long as I can remember, but never more so around the holidays.  From those iconic Thanksgiving apple turkeys to individual placecards adorned with mini pinecones or river stones painted with each guest’s name, holiday projects were both a way to formalize the meal as well as a source of entertainment for the children and adults alike. Creativity ruled; we didn’t care about “perfect”.  My husband likes to joke that his formal Yankee Grandparent’s motto was “children should be NOT seen and NOT heard”!  Can you imagine!?!  Not in our household!
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Now that the kids are flying the coop and I have more time on my hands, I love making table runners from my vast collection of vintage fabrics.  The textiles I use depend on the occasion or season.  Nubby vintage chenille with its amazing array of color and textures is perfect for a baby shower.  Textural bark cloth from the 40s blends beautifully with the smooth elegance of vintage velvet for winter nights and the delightfully colorful fabrics of vintage Lilly Pulitzer adds a real pop of color in welcoming back Springtime.
Recycling fabrics . . . whether you scored yardage from estate sales, selected vintage clothing from Goodwill or inherited a box of Grandma’s linens from a neighbor… will make you feel proud about your resourcefulness and, the textiles you choose can provide the beginning of what will become one of your family’s fondest memories…your stories.
As always…with Love, Barb
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Vintage Linens for Holiday Gifts

Looking for a unique one-of-a-kind (ooak) gift for the person who has everything?  Vintage linens is the way to go!  My studio is filled with linens of all sorts.  Once word got out that I collected linens, grateful women bestowed upon me their family heirlooms, thankful that someone would be putting them to good use.  One of my earliest crushes is also one of the simplest ….

…the Vintage Handkerchief.

Weighing about as much as a feather and generally sized at a petite 10 inches square, the vintage handkerchief is probably the easiest of linens to use and, I might add, one of the most treasured, especially if you’re using one from your grandmother’s collection.  If you are lucky enough to have some of your own or have started your own collection, great!  If you don’t… you can easily find them.  Try your local antique shop or, what I like … grab a large cup of coffee, a couple of girlfriends and haunt your local flea market.  For as little as $1 (cheap, right? well…let’s call it thrifty) you can find one that suits your style.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.  We can take care of that.

Once you get it home you’ll want to launder it.  Pop your new finds into a bucket of very hot water into which you’ve added a dollop of laundry soap (I prefer Myers brand) and a dash of Oxyclean.  Let them soak for at least one hour after which you’ll want to hand rinse in running hot water.  Squeeze out as much water as possible and then, using a clean white (preferably) towel, lay the hankie on the towel, roll the towel up, and step on it.  Yep, step on it.  This will gently remove just about all moisture enabling you to air dry your hankie in no time.

When your hankie is dry, or actually better yet, when your hankie is just about dry, iron it.  The little moisture that is left will steam out any wrinkles in no time.

TaDa! Your freshly laundered hanky is ready for its new life!

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Upcoming blogs will feature items from the following list.  Be sure to stay tuned!

As always…made with love. ~Barb

  • Balsam sachet using Grandma Moses fabric
  • Table Runners
  • Fabric Tree
  • Coasters
  • Patchwork blanket
  • Inspirational Sachets
  • Woolen Wreath
  • Pot Holders
  • Holiday Banner
  • Embroidered Runner