Hello Winter. Thankful.

129twigandvine November snow © Sue Schlabach

Almost Thanksgiving and the grass is nearly obscured by snow. That’s okay with me after the mild, lingering autumn we’ve had. Our garden wall project that ate up our summer (and was partially the reason I rarely wrote), is nearly complete, and that is one of a million things I am thankful for this season.

Warm eggs in my ice-cold hand. Birds at the feeder. A water droplet at the bottom of every one of the hundreds of crab apples on the tree outside my window. An open afternoon after several weeks of busy, busy, busy.

We’re off to Montreal on Friday. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are, and see you again next week.

129twigandvine snow and eggs © Sue Schlabach129twigandvine Garden Progress © Sue Schlabach129twigandvine Woodbine leaf © Sue Schlabach129twigandvine Woods walk findings © Sue Schlabach

An Autumn Pairing

129twigandvine, © Sue Schlabach. Tunbridge, Vermont, road. Fresh mint tea.Two autumn moments.

Last week I drove the back way from Strafford, Vermont, through Tunbridge toward Royalton. Late afternoon sun on country roads.

I made the last pot of fresh mint tea before heavy frost.

These are a few recent images from my instagram feed.

Foggy Mornings, Paris Awaits

129twigandvine, hop vines. © Sue Schlabach

August left and so did the feeling of summer. Greg Brown sings, “One day fall appears with a chilly dawn,” and we know how that feels.

I like the shift, to be honest.

And each year when this shift happens I try to get some garden time in while I pack my bags to head to Europe with an eye for art and designs for Wild Apple. First stop Maison et Objet in Paris.

Far from the misty mornings where the hop vines trail down in front of the west window, motorcycles whirr up the alley by my window in the Marais. The nah-nah…nah-nah of a Parisian police car nears and recedes. Rain patters quietly on the window box plants and it’s time to attempt to find something that isn’t too wrinkly to wear to dinner.

More news to come. But first a night of sleep. And café au lait. Lots of café au lait.

In the Studio—Aprons, Towels, and the Quest for the Perfect Bag

129twigandvine made in the studio this spring, photography by Sue Schlabach

 Friday is here at last.

Sun after lots of cool rainy weather.

A trip to Montreal—tonight!

Here is a sampling of things made in the studio this spring.

Denise and I hand-printed a big batch of flour sack towels back in March. Most are gone, but I still love the look of them stacked on the chair after we made the bundles.

We also collaborated in designing six shopkeeper-style linen aprons. One was a commission that winged its way to Robin in Texas. Another headed to Arizona rather quickly after we posted it to the shop (the striped one with blue and brown accents shown above). Another was sold too (but I can’t remember where it went…) Two are in the ilo collective shop.

The latest two we’re designing will have adjustable straps and are deep gray/black linen with an industrial flare. No pictures yet—they’re still on the drawing board being refined.

Before the Ireland trip I designed and sewed a new bag that is my prototype for ‘the perfect bag.’ {Meaning, lots of interior and exterior pockets, groovy look, strong handles.} For the first one I used some vintage Marimekko fabric given to me by my friend Brenda (Henhouse Fibers). I show both sides of the first perfect bag above: with the bold fabric on one entire side, and as an accent pocket on the reverse side which is the Belarusian linen I keep going on and on about.

The test bag went to Ireland, Montreal, New York and all over Vermont and New Hampshire since I made it in early April. It’s holding up well, but I have modifications in mind to truly make it perfect. A little more reinforcement where the handles meet the top placket. A few pocket size changes. Nothing major, but a quest toward true perfection.

If all goes well, I’ll start selling The Perfect Bag on the shop this fall. Perhaps in two sizes.

Of course, my idea of perfect may not be the same as yours.

That said, if you have opinions about what makes the perfect bag, I’d love to hear them.

What do you store in pockets? What size do you like? Long handles? Short handles? Let the research commence…I’d love to hear.

129twigandvine_floursack_towels photo by Sue Schlabach

First Pond Swim of the Season

129twigandvine—photography by Sue Schlabach

Saturday, June 1. Nearly 90 degrees. Humidity off the charts.

Off to Julie’s pond with a group of friends, a feast, a gaggle of kids.

Go through the gate, be sure to latch it. There are cows in this field that takes you to the pond. There is a bull.

Walk the tow path down the hill, passing the first small pond. Break a sweat.

The big pond comes into view. The kids are already in there splashing and doing what kids do.

First swim of the year, and June has only just begun.

Apple Blossoms, Heavy Dew

129twigandvine — apple blossoms, vermont morningGreetings after a long respite. Happy Mother’s Day and honor to all of our foremothers.

Heavy dew this week makes for magic mornings. The apple blossoms are just starting to open on the north side by the henhouse. Violets and dandelions sprinkle the lawns, along with fallen branches from winter winds and snow—now just a memory.

Ireland is behind me, bringing a smile to my lips as I think of the stories yet to share. This week. I promise.129twigandvine_dew129twigandvine_violet_dew

Drifting

129twigandvine_driftsToday’s word: drifts.

It’s hard to measure a snowfall on a morning with the wind howling and snow blowing about forming clouds in the otherwise blue sky.

We braved the weather to feed the animals, shovel some paths, clean off the cars. And now we’re warming by the fire and watching the snowscape shift and reshape itself under the sunshine and tree shadows.

Advent, Bells, Snow

129twigandvine_winterberry

Fresh snow fell yesterday morning. A nice way to begin December.

I pinned the first of Peggy’s jingle bells to the hem of my coat, opened the first of my 24 advent packages—a gorgeous garland of rustic wooden stars—sent from my dear friend in France, and headed to Strafford, Vermont.

Who is Peggy? Why did I go to Strafford?

I wrote about Peggy’s jingle bells last December 1. Here is an excerpt. See photos and the entire post here.

My daughter is the one who found the little red box full of jingle bells and safety pins.

We were at the rummage sale last summer in the old town hall near where my parents live.

It was my mom who told us who the bells had belonged to, and the reason for the safety pins.

Peggy used to live in the old brick Cape cottage across from the town hall. She moved into assisted care housing last year, and her nieces and nephews went through the house to choose things to keep and things to sell. Many wonderful things arrived at the rummage sale, and I am now the happy owner of things from Peggy’s house.

Among these things, are the bells.

On December 1—every year—Peggy would pin a jingle bell to the hem of her skirt. On December 2 she’d add a second bell. And on and on, up until Christmas day when her hem was a sparkling, jingling masterpiece.

I pinned the first bell to the hem of my coat this morning.

Strafford (home to July 4 parades featuring dachshunds!!) had its holiday extravaganza yesterday and we Henhouse Fibers and ilo collective makers set up a table and had a great day hanging out in Barrett Hall—a classic Vermont building with high ceilings, big windows, a stage, good cheer. It was full of local artisans and folks coming through to do their Christmas shopping. Very festive.

Outside the snow fell gently all day. Inside the air smelled of pine boughs.

129twigandvine_snowprints

I Had A Hard Time Waking This Morning…

….I had a lot of things on my mind (as the song by The Band goes).

This morning started at midnight when my alarm clock went off. Apparently we had a blip of a power outage last night and it set my alarm back to 12:00 a.m.

I—mercifully—got back to sleep without an allergy attack or a spinning-out-of-control thought.

Then at 5:30, I came out of a dream to the sound of whinnying.

You didn’t misread that.

Whinnying. Nonplussed whinnying.

Out of bed I bounded to find two of our three neighbor horses grazing by the lamb fence in the morning fog. If I hadn’t been so annoyed I’d have said, “ahhhh.” I won’t tell you what I said. Use your imagination.

Instead, I threw on a ragtag arrangement of clothes and boots and headed out the door to find the source of the non-stop whinnying—picturing a horse with a broken leg, or a horse rolled up in a tangle of broken electric fencing. This is the worst that my tired mind could imagine. In a few minutes stroll down the road I found Horse #3 standing in his own pasture (with an entire corner of destroyed fence where he, too, could’ve escaped) whinnying his displeasure that his two buddies had left him and wouldn’t come back. This horse was the tattle tale on the playground. The one yelling, “Hey they’re breaking the rules!!!” Poor thing.

Back in the kitchen I watched Rueger and Rosie, the naughty ones, move further from the lamb pasture and onto my lawn, sampling the various grasses and a few of my perennials. Oh well, fewer for me to deadhead.

It was now 5:45. Put on the kettle. Grab the camera. Wait for a godly hour to call my neighbor.

Jump In

No matter how cold the water is, my daughter will always jump in.

I admire that quality in kids. This weekend it will be sweltering hot and we’ll be camping on a lake. I plan to take a tip from the youngsters and make the leap without dipping a toe.

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