We are preparing for departure once again. In a few days time we will be on our way first to Malmö, Sweden and then to Paris, France... I can't wait to see my family again - my nephews, my mom, my sisters, my brother-in-law, and then  uncles, aunts, cousins, and old friends. These visits to the home country keeps me sane, and anchored. This is where I really belong and this is where my history began. So I will savor every minute, every hug, every laughter. Not to mention every meal, and every glass raised.

Towards the end of the month my boys (all three of them) and I are heading to Paris. We will spend a full week in this magical city; walking, looking, eating, looking, and walking some more. Kind friends have already sent me lists of things not to miss, but more ideas are always welcome. Let me know what your favorite Paris spot might be. I did get my hands on Paris: Made by Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk, so now I am envisioning one or two shopping trips to some of these old fashioned stores filled with linen, silks, notions, threads, and other treasures.

Part of preparing for departure is to make sure everything at home is left in order. I am finishing up work and shipping pending orders. I am tidying up the garden, hoping our house sitters will take advantage of its bounty (the tomatoes are especially delicious this year). The house is gradually being cleaned and the dogs are showered with love. Leaving the pooches behind is actually the most difficult part. I know they will have the best of care, but it is still so hard.

I have listed a few new pieces in the store, including similitude, a new favorite art quilt based on a mirrored walnut eco prints on wool. Both the online store and the etsy shop will be closed while I am gone, so take a quick look now to see if something catches your fancy...

Lastly, I want to brag about my friend Kelly McKaig, and her brand new etsy shop. Kelly is a renowned photo stylist who also makes sachets, pincushions, and other house ware, and she cultivates and sells her own honey. She lives, works, and raises her bees on the southside of Chicago. The image shows the beautiful pin cushion I bought, made from rust dyed and hand stitched linen - handmade, wholesome, and beautiful.

giving thanks

I have much to be thankful for. Health, family, happiness, friends, work... but without my boys, life would just stop in its tracks. They continue to amaze me with their accomplishments, compassion, smarts, and love. I am so lucky.

And my girls makes me to wake up every morning with a smile, whether I am ready for it or not.

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

sunshine and sorrow

Our Sweden vacation continues. We have returned to Malmö, where my mom and sisters live. The boys enjoy sleep-in mornings and days filled with play, beach visits and no commitments. I relish having time for true conversations, long evening meals, and endless card games with my nephews. We've been to a Swedish premier league soccer game, a youth track meet, many neat museums, restaurants, and stores...

But sadness lingers amidst our joyful activities. Kajsa, one of our dogs has died while we were away. She was sick with a fever when we left, and despite loving care from our veterinarian, house sitter, and friends, she continued to get worse. When her liver stopped working we decided to put her down, a difficult step to take in any circumstance and heart wrenching when you are thousands of miles away. Kajsa was an amazing, intelligent, and loving dog. She was worried and fearful (especially of hot air balloons and thunder) but extraordinarily devoted, loyal, and trusting. And she knew how to smile. I'll miss her.

puppy love

... a dog can never tell you what she knows from the
smell of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know
almost nothing...
— Mary Oliver
from the poem "her grave"

I love our two dogs.  Freja, the labrador, steals food, doesn't come when called, and can't walk properly on a leash. Kajsa, the hound mix, is terrified of everything, especially fireworks, thunder, and hot air balloons. With all their faults, there is something honest and unconditional about dogs, their devotion, endearment, and companionship. I can't imagine life without them. Charlottesville is covered in ice and snow today. School is closed and we are all, including the pups, setting up camp in front of the wood stove. Lovely...