New Site Launch


This is the end of a chapter that’s brought me lots of joy and discovery. Thanks for being part of that journey!

In the year since we sold the home we refer to as ‘129’ I’ve been rethinking how to write and talk about being an artist and a creative person. My physical address has changed and so have I.

Over the last few months I’ve created a new website and blog and I’ve put it under my name. Addresses and houses will change, but I’ll stay Sue Schlabach. That’s the rationale!

So I invite you to come visit me at

Please subscribe to the new site to continue to see posts! I just put one up today about foraging.


Abandoned Cabin 21 Sue Schlabach

Abandoned Cabin 18 Sue Schlabach

I drive by this alpine meadow near my house most days and see a shingled roof up there through the trees. I’ve been so curious about this cabin since glimpsing it for the first time last year.

So a few weeks ago I was traveling past mid-morning on a weekday and I had my camera with me. The day was golden and the cabin was calling.

Abandoned Cabin 02 Sue Schlabach-1

I was out of my car and through the tree line by the roadside before I’d thought it through. I was in flip flops—not the best—but the meadow wasn’t too high, so I wandered up the hill to the cabin—heart racing a little at my bold trespass. At that moment I was a 12 year old again, walking the long driveway to an abandoned house with my childhood friend. The house was a big old plastered farmhouse with broken windows and rotten porches. It lay below a ridge line where the owner was purported to live. Local kids gossiped that the owner watched the house with binoculars, and as we walked the long driveway, we felt his eyes drilling into us.

We went room by room in the downstairs, each creaky floorboard making us jump. The stairs were questionable, but we took them, staying close to the edges where they seemed more secure. The rooms were musty and mousy. There was very little to find other than a few empty bottles and cigarette butts from teenagers who were curious like us. I do remember the old moldings and big wide window frames. I remember looking past the neglect to how lovely the whole place could have been with care.

Abandoned Cabin 03 Sue Schlabach

Abandoned Cabin 08 Sue Schlabach

Back in the here and now, I’ve walked through hawkweed and clover, daisies and ferns and here is this shuttered cabin. There is wood on the porch. A sign that someone has been here in the last few years, but the wood is gray and brittle—its usefulness fading just like the worn cloth on the gorgeous pillow I see on the porch. New boards on the steps suggest that the place isn’t totally neglected. But the big rotten hole in the porch itself signaled abandonment.Abandoned Cabin 12 Sue Schlabach

Abandoned Cabin 19 Sue Schlabach

Abandoned Cabin 15 Sue Schlabach

The doors and windows are shuttered tight, so maybe someone will come back and give this little place an airing and spend a few nights. I’d love a glimpse inside. But I’m not that bold. I’ll just have to imagine it.

Abandoned Cabin 16 Sue Schlabach

Abandoned Cabin 06 Sue Schlabach



©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

Holiday Greetings from our hilltop valley. It is unseasonably warm, and when we walked this morning it felt like spring garden planting weather, not the season of candlelight, bayberry scent and eggnog by the fire.

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

The woodland is so lush and green with moss and ferns that we imagined this is how Christmas is in the Pacific Northwest.

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

Tonight we’ll head a mile down the hill to the East Barnard Church to share song and stories with our neighbors and visit around a bonfire. Wishing you and your loved ones the joy of the season and wishing for more peace in our world, with special concern for those seeking refuge.

(Which recalls the refugees who sought
shelter to have a baby in another time and place.)

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Nöel post

Gudrun Friends Journal

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine gudrun friends journal

A few weeks ago I was invited to journal for a week as a friend of Gudrun Sjoden, the Swedish designer whose art, home and clothing lines epitomize everything I love about design. Her art is infused with color, pattern, whimsy, beauty, ethnicity and a nod toward history and place.

@gudrunsjoden instragram feed

Gudrun Sjoden’s instagram feed this week

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine gudrun friends journal

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine gudrun friends journal

Last week was a great week to journal. We were preparing for Christmas, I had a full and busy week at work, and it ended with our Wild Apple holiday party at Lake Champlain Chocolate in Burlington, Vermont. So a good week to write about! I’m a little sad to have a snowless Christmas here in Vermont, but we’re keeping the home fires burning, and good cheer nonetheless.

Wishing you some calm as you prepare for holidays and some light in your life on this shortest day of the year.

More from Gudrun Sjoden:



©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine gudrun friends journal




Walking Your Hen. Vermont. Paris.

129twigandvine photo by Nina Leen TIME 1956

There are places where you expect to find a velvet Victorian sofa. A chicken yard isn’t generally the place.

There are places you expect to see a chicken. A Paris dress shop might not come to mind.

In the back garden of a house on the edge of South Strafford, Vermont, a Victorian sofa holds court beside my friend Tori’s chicken house. And that’s not all. Tori’s hens eat their corn and food scraps from silver platters, artfully posed about the poultry living room that continues to be furnished with chairs and serving ware Tori finds for free at her local town transfer station (ie. the town dump).

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Tori's hens, S. Strafford, VT

I’ll point out that if I had found the sofa for free (or even for sale), it would now be front and center in my own living room, sans chickens. I’d let chickens live in my house—mind you—but that would be a deal breaker for other members of my household.

Tori lost all of her flock of chickens—but one—to a fox last year. The sole survivor, Wanda, is a well-loved hen who lived in Tori’s house (she has a more tolerant spouse, does Tori) until the fencing could be fortified and more hens could be found to join her in the coop.

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine Tori's chickens in South Strafford, Vermont

In the meantime, Tori found the sofa. And a silver tea service. An assortment of wooden chairs with leather seats. An end table or two. Since I first visited the refurbished coop in late summer a wall with paintings and a roof has been erected over the chicken living room so that the hens can spend time outside when the snow is deep.Tori has a whole plan to make them covered pathways from their chicken house to the sofa area so they don’t have to walk through snow at all. It’s hen paradise, and I love it myself.

129twigandvine Tori and Wanda in the photo booth at her 50th birthday extravaganza

Wanda travels with Tori. Did I mention that? She went on vacation to Maine this summer, and rides shotgun in Tori’s truck on errands around town. She joined Tori and many other friends (self included) in the photo booth at Tori’s 50th birthday extravaganza in October.

Recently I was driving to an appointment in Woodstock, Vermont, when I ran across Tori AND Wanda having their picture taken. Professionally. Tori was wearing a suit. And Wanda was perched in her arms. If a beak can smile, hers did.

129twigandvine Tori Lloyd and her well-loved chicken Wanda. Woodstock, Vermont.129twigandvine Wanda longboards with Tori in Maine 2015.

Where else would a woman bond with a chicken and take her everywhere she goes, but Paris? In 1956 LIFE photographer Nina Leen shadowed the Parisienne Marguerite while she did her Paris shopping accompanied by her very own well-loved hen. The story by Liz Ronk and full set of photographs can be seen here.

See more about Wanda here.



A Farewell of Sorts

129twigandvine A Farewell of Sorts ©Sue Schlabach

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve written. As the months yawned on since last June, I couldn’t think how to synthesize what I wanted to say.

So the long and short of it, is that we are moving on from our little house on the hill. Not without some reluctance, but also not without a lot of excitement and expectation. We’re ready for the change.

And so, this writing about 129—the physical address of that little house on the hill—is going to shift and change. My world is still a tangle of twigs and vines, but my gps is a moving thing. We’re living in temporary (but splendid) digs while we contemplate where to put down roots again after the little house sells. It goes on the market officially this week. We’ve been madly painting and scrubbing, weeding and raking. We needed to pay full respect to the place we love before handing it on to the next owners.

Our home of 17 years always felt so permanent. Everything we did there we thought we were doing for the duration. So why leave it? Because we’re ready for something different. Because the making of a place and a home is as fun as living within its embrace.

Our new home is also facing a meadow, and it’s only a few minutes from my parents and my brother’s family. The horse is a mile up the road, and I’ve set up a new studio that I’m excited about. Art and life continue to be at my crossroads, though my crossroads are new.

Marie-Elaine Cusson

129twigandvine_marie_elaine_cusson_home Montreal Photography © Sue Schlabach

Marie-Elaine Cusson lives on a street just off the bustle of Sherbrooke in Westmount, Montreal. The quiet of her upstairs rooms belies the action just around the corner. But the quiet is mostly in the late night hours when her family is sleeping. Then she and her dog, Cacouna, settle into her little studio of the kitchen and she gets to work.

129twigandvine_marie_elaine_cusson_home Montreal Photography © Sue Schlabach

I just spent a few days in Montreal with Marie and glimpsed her creative and family life. This is one of my favorite parts of my job—getting to know the artists I work with and understanding how they approach the creative process.

Marie rifled through portfolios, pulled up images on her iMac and served up frothy café au laits with ease, while sending off her three kids to soccer practice or the park. Soon we got down to business thinking up new ideas for her as we begin our work with her for Wild Apple.

129twigandvine_marie_elaine_cusson_home Montreal Photography © Sue Schlabach

All around were collections from the sea, found in the coastal Gaspé region of Quebec where the family has traveled every summer for years. Shells, seaglass, driftwood and sea anemones arranged in artful display accompanied family photos, small paintings, art by the children and favorite books. A large world map occupied an entire wall above the sofa. Photos of African children framed in the bathroom started our conversation about Marie’s time teaching in Burkina Faso the the Côte d’Ivoire.

Marie works in paint on canvas, or pencil and marker on illustration board, then moves to the computer to fully realize her art and design. Her studio walls continued the exhibits of favorite photographs, mementos of travel, and collections from the natural world.

Next week she and family head to the ocean. No doubt she’ll return with more treasures and lots of new paintings and drawings.

129twigandvine_marie_elaine_cusson_home Montreal Photography © Sue Schlabach

129twigandvine_marie_elaine_cusson_home Montreal Photography © Sue Schlabach

Lightness, Whiteness

Jane Cumberbatch Home, Pure Style, photos ©Sue Schlabach

I feel well familiar with whiteness right now. Our landscape remains monochrome, blanketed with snow.

But I leave for London tomorrow where the grass is green and the air is mild.

Mild never sounded so good.

Jane Cumberbatch photo ©Sue Schlabach,

I’ve been remiss in writing about an afternoon I spent with Jane Cumberbatch in London last fall, and since whiteness and brightness reigns in her home, it seems only fitting to finally share it.

Jane’s books about her Pure Style approach to life are the cat’s meow, and she showed me her latest bit of color accent: hand-painted striped borders. In all the whiteness and brightness, a stripe of color would do anyone good. I came home with quince (a cheery acid yellow) and cake tin (a green-tinged robin’s egg blue). Both sit on my studio shelf saying, “stop being afraid and do something with us!” Maybe when I get back…. I do have ideas for where stripes would be just the ticket around here.

Jane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach, www.129twigandvine.comJane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach, www.129twigandvine.comJane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach,

And so, we ate apple cake and drank delicious strong coffee. I wandered the sunny rooms of Jane’s south facing house and found recognition around each corner, since her home is used as a styling location for magazine shoots and throughout her books. And plenty of surprises too, of course.

Jane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach, www.129twigandvine.comJane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach, www.129twigandvine.comJane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach,

See the two at the bottom center? Quince and cake tin. Ready to bring some color back into my world.

Soon. Soon.

Jane Cumberbatch home photo ©Sue Schlabach,

Heather Chontos—Milk Farm Road

by Heather Chontos, Milk Farm Road blog

photo by Heather Chontos, Milk Farm Road blog

In the continued quest to think about how to creatively cover my thrashed, but cozy, feather-filled couch, I came across the artist Heather Chontos‘ canvas painted throw.

That’s inspired.

Heather Chontos, photograph by Robyn Lea for EST magazine

Heather writes and occupies a sublime spot in Portland, Maine. I like her carefree approach to getting paint on a surface—whether it’s the table she’ll serve an artisanal meal from or a 6-foot canvas on her studio wall.

I also love her studio name Milk Farm Road. It conjures all sorts of visual sparks for me— a summer path edged with Queen Anne’s Lace and hawkweed, the warmth and scent of a milking parlor in a barn. I see white pines nearby and hear the call of phoebes. Why phoebes? No idea. I think hot cookies are in the picture since milk usually makes me think of hot cookies.

Heather and her studio are featured in the latest issue of EST—a great online magazine from Australia. She is in issue #12, and you’ll need to subscribe to see it. But it’s free! So do it.

She has a fascinating story that I hope you enjoy while imagining cookies, paths and milk houses.

All photos after the first are photographed by Robyn Lea for EST magazine.

Heather Chontos, photograph by Robyn Lea for EST magazineHeather Chontos, photograph by Robyn Lea for EST magazineHeather Chontos, photograph by Robyn Lea for EST magazineHeather Chontos, photograph by Robyn Lea for EST magazine


© Lauren Geremia, shown on

bird ceiling by Lauren Geremia

2014 is marching onward. Here I am in February watching the light change and finding myself cleaning the house with spring on my mind and snow whirling outside the windows. My daughter turned 12. We are on the verge or acquiring a horse that needs a home. Life is changing and I’m barely catching up.

The sky cracked and sparkled this morning. The thermometer said zero (fahrenheit). The sky was the color of raw silk. A fresh foot of snow capped the barn, the chicken house, and the cars.

Stepping outside I braced for the chill, and instead felt a balm I didn’t expect. Not a trace of wind. Only a soothing touch in the air that promised that spring is coming—even though it’s still a long way off at the 35th latitude (8 weeks, I’d wager).

And so.

Birds—wings frantically beating—caught my fancy this morning, thanks to Desire to Inspire. This design is the work of Bay area designer, Lauren Geremia. Thanks Lauren for capturing my mood on this bitter cold morning.

Reminder to self. Look up.

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