Nöel

©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:

instagram

website

©Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine gudrun friends journal

tuesday-barn

Thursday-gifts

 

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.

Nina-Leen-Paris-Chicken

 

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.

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

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