Recap 2015!

Hello! Well 2015 has come and gone and I have posted ZERO blog posts during that whole time! Wow. Ok. So how are you? Hope you had a great 2015 and that 2016 is off to a good start.

I have to say some happy, life altering events happened during 2015. One, the big ONE... my daughter, Mirela Jozefina, was born in February, 2015.

Being pregnant, giving birth and caring for my newborn and my two/three year old son took almost all the energy I had.

And two... as I came out of the new baby fog, I began to focus some of my time and attention back on my art business. Last fall I took the steps and began the process to create a website and online store that will serve as an online gallery and shopping place for all my original designs in their various manifestations as cards, archival prints, original embroideries and paintings.

I am very, very excited to be coming down the home stretch of designing my website with the creative, thoughtful and artistic contributions of my talented friends: photographer, Erin Long at

Erin Long Photography

and designer, Seth Gregory at

Seth Gregory Design.

  Without their help I would not have the site that is about to be launched. Thank you Erin and Seth!!!

So here we are, 2016. My baby will turn a year old at the end of February and I will give birth to another baby around the same time:

I hope you will visit me there and stay in touch via my blog through my new website. I will no longer be blogging via Blogger. Stay posted as I will let you know when officially launches. Thank you!

Spruce Corner

For the last two weekends some of my cards and embroidery pieces were at the Spruce Corner Schoolhouse Holiday Sale. Above are some pictures of this magical little place. I traveled "over the river and through the woods" to get here and also seemed to travel back in time.

This little schoolhouse harkens back to another time when we educated our children in our small communities in one room buildings. Kids of all ages would gather to learn together. As I set up my things for the holiday sale my mind wandered. Part of me longs to send my child to this place with other kids of all ages, with a dedicated teacher who believes in creativity and story as well as math and science. Today schools often look like office buildings or even worse, prisons. They are often big impersonal spaces filled with people and tied to the clock like a factory. Although a place like this may be filled with good teachers and love, it is just hard for me to think about how big classrooms and schools have become in their physical size and numbers of students. The system is less personal. So when I come to this space for the holiday sale, as an artist and a holiday shopper, I start to day dream about "what if?". What if our small communities in the hills of MA could open some schoolhouses like this with a dedicated teacher and smaller groups of our children? Is it possible? What would it look like?

When I walk through the wooden door the first thing that I am aware of is the quiet. There is only the sound of the crackling fire and the hushed voices of other holiday shoppers. I also quickly become aware of the lack of electricity.  The light is all natural. On a cloudy day or at twilight the space has a muted, serene quality and on a sunny day the sun casts shadows, playing with the window panes and lovely arts and crafts objects that are for sale. A fire in the big wood stove heats the space. A top the stove a pot of spiced, hot apple cider infuses it's fragrance throughout the room. The building is truly how it would have been in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is no loud holiday pop music, no glaring flourescent lights and no crowds. It's a place where I can think and where I can enjoy what I'm looking at.

If you live in the area or find yourself in western MA during the first two weekends in December perhaps you would like to shop here too? The Spruce Corner Schoolhouse is on Rt. 116 between Ashfield and Plainfield, MA. This was my third time participating in this sale and I look forward to it every year.

Here are a few things that I purchased this year. I knitted knome for Kazi, a felted Christmas tree ornament and some felting materials to try my hand at felt painting.

It's a  beautiful frigid snow day here at my home and I'm keeping the wood stove pumping as I write this.  If you look closely at the picture with the knitted knome, out the window my sentient sunflower is still standing guard over our house and garden. Her head is bowed and she wears a cap of snow. I hope you are enjoying the warmth of the season where ever you are!

Winter Quiet

In between the extreme busyness of art business activities, craft fairs, stocking the stores that carry my designs, holiday travels, family gatherings and birthday celebrations there have been moments of peace and quiet. I catch these moments when I can. Sometimes the moments are more premeditated and sometimes the quiet moments catch me by surprise.

Like now as I write this on an icy December night, the baby is asleep and my husband is out in his studio. I have the house to myself. I lit a lot of candles and am playing medieval renaissance music through the speakers. It feels good to sit in golden candle light and catch my breath at home in a peaceful atmosphere. I created this moment.

Another moment of winter quiet came by surprise this weekend early in the morning and at twilight as I drove to and from the craft fair in Charlemont, MA in which I participated. The rural winter scenes were beautiful as I drove and the light against the silhouettes of the trees so lovely. These quiet moments in the car were a welcome break from the constant sound of voices and loud, popular holiday music at the fair. The pictures above were taken during these moments this weekend.

Winter is a time for quiet, a time to think, reflect, regroup and dream. I'm slowly exhaling after all the running around of 2013 and I am ready to reflect and dream. For the next few months I want less agendas and less deadlines. My creative self needs this kind of break.

I turned 38 this past Tuesday. I am excited about this time in my life. I'm old enough to know more about what I want and who I am. And I'm young enough to continue working on projects and begin working on some long term goals.  I can take steps, one at a time, that will eventually add up to something big. I think this something will take years and years to accomplish. I hope to still have plenty of time ahead.

And yet despite having goals and dreams, I feel wrapped in the mystery of the unknown and this is where the magic lies. Those unexpected, sometimes quiet moments when I feel held, embraced and guided by something bigger than myself.

Sister Sunflower

A sunflower grew to be twelve feet tall in my garden this year. She was a volunteer. I did not plant her. She is the daughter and granddaughter of the sunflowers that grew in the same spot over the past few years. I've come to think that her presence is the guardian of the house and the land. Everyone who comes to my house comments on her. I like her strong, quiet companionship. Sometimes I go out to the garden and just stand next to her. All alone. I look at her beauty and think about how she teaches me. In return I admire her and give her a little of my company. Her flower head is over a foot in diameter. The seeds are riping and later this fall they will feed the birds, squirrels and chipmunks who will come. Her head is heavy, bent down in a pose of humility and surrender. The dazzling yellow petals have whithered away. The nights have turned chilly. Her heart shaped leaves draw inward towards her strong and straight stalk holding her upright even in the rain and in the wind. She surrenders to the season. Fall is here and the trees, birds and flowers are letting us know. It has been a truly beautiful two weeks. I can't remember a more beautiful turning of the leaves to their golds, reds and coppers. Rain came today and everything is beautiful in a different kind of way.

In light of listening to a weekly poetry program on the radio, I feel like sharing another Mary Oliver poem. I just love her work. This excerpt from the following poem The Sunflowers resonates with me. Oliver just squeezes out the truth, the essence of a thing, the essence of spirit the truth about what it means to be alive.

Like these words from The Sunflower...

"...each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy..."

The Sunflowers: APoem by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young -
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don't be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Studio Time

I am making a real effort to spend time back in my studio.


The time is right to put energy into my creative practice with gusto.

Now that Kaz is over a year old, takes two regular naps, has an early bed time, and enjoys some time at the local daycare a couple hours a day, a day or two a week, there is no reason I can not get at least 6 -12 hours of studio time in every week. I know this doesn't sound like a lot but it is something. Something which is very special to me.

First I spent time reorganizing and cleaning up my studio space after using it as a home office for the past year. Now that the space is in studio mode I am back to work. Paints can stay out and works in progress are easily accessible. This is great as I sometimes need to get to work fast when I only have a bit of time to spare. A half an hour here an couple hours there soon add up to sketches being made, watercolors being experimented with and dreams taking shape.

During studio time I am taking care of Where Earth Meets Sky business. I want to use some of my creative time to get ready for craft fairs and holiday sales that happen in the fall through Christmas time. I would also like to get my cards and prints into some more retail businesses. I want to update my facebook business page and learn how to connect it better with my blog. I'm thinking about setting up my Etsy shop again since it has been dormant for the past year.

I just finished a commission I had been working on for a friend for long time. I want to share all the commissioned projects that have come to fruition in the past year and a half. I created a wedding invitation, a tattoo design and a business logo with matching business cards. I still need to finish a poster/flyer template for a musician friend. Posts to come will show the work in their completion. I will also have an organized page here on my blog which focuses on the commissioned projects that I've been hired to create for others.

Giving myself a kick in the pants to get out of my head, take action and get to work has felt really good. Creative work brings a greater sense of purpose and meaning to my life. My other roles in life are satisfying but when I put energy towards my creative practice I feel more whole and complete. The danger for me is procrastination and fear of failure. Somehow when I take action these two negative aspects become weaker and quietly hang in the background instead of blazing in the foreground. I do not feel good when I procrastinate or am unnecessarily fearful.

I have found a website that I find particularly inspiring and helpful as I make headway organizing moments of free time to create art work in the studio. It is a space for mothers who are artists called Studio Mothers. There are some good articles there for those of us looking to use any bits of free time we have pursuing creative endeavors. Really the inspiration here can be useful and translate to how one may pursue any life passion. Sometimes we just need some positive affirmation to help us along the way. This is a place I can find that.
meme taken from

Peasant Homes and Gardens

Peasant Cottage at Skansen Wygielzowie in Poland

Zakopane house and garden

Skansen window

Skansen garden

This post is a little collection of some inspiring pictures of peasant cottages and their gardens. I can't get over the simple use of color around the the windows and between the logs of the cottage in the first photo.  Turquoise and cobalt blue is one of my favorite color combinations.

All but the first photo here were taken by me two summers ago while I was in Poland. There are a number of lovely Skansens (outdoor and living history museums) in Poland that preserve folk, wooden architecture. Some towns are known for their existing homes exhibiting and/or preserving old architectural styles, Zakopane being one of them.

The old peasant homes breathe with life. A thatched roof, dirt floor and wooden walls, all organic and natural materials, allow the home to literally breathe. This makes me think of Hundertwasser and his manifesto where he proclaims that the space we inhabit, the architecture of our dwellings, is like another layer of skin. Our architecture is a layer outside our physical layer of skin surrounding our bodies and the layer of clothes we wear. Soon I will write more about old folk architecture, what I know and learned from my travels and reading.

For now...

There is a lot of work to do at home in my garden this time of year. I'm am feeling particularly busy, grounded and centered around the home with all that needs to get done. I haven't been able to sit at my computer to write much. But, gardening is an excellent activity for gathering one's thoughts! The writing will come.

The weeds grow fast next to the seedlings that are just sprouting. Then there is the thinning that needs to get done so that the seedlings coming up do not crowd one another. Some vegetable beds still need to be made and planted with beans, carrots and beets at the community garden plot down the street. At home, I'm going to make a hay bale raised bed in which to plant the delicata and spaghetti squash so they can grow down the hill towards the woods, out of the way of our other garden beds. Radishes, potatoes, garlic, cilantro, arugula, lettuces, horseradish and spinach are up. Some basil and tomatoes are in. Today I'm going to a flower nursery to buy some annuals to put in pots and hanging baskets around the house. Soon I will be caught up, ahead of the weeds and enjoying watching the summer growing of all the plants, flowers and food on the land.

Photos of my garden taken this morning...

A Call from the Ancestors: Roots, Family, the Land

My family's cottage in Korczyna, Poland

I'm working on a series of writings I am calling, A CALL FROM THE ANCESTORS.
With it I'll be addressing why I am inspired by the folk and peasant arts and traditions of Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Hungary. Why am I pulled to learn and experience more in relationship to my roots? Why does a place and a way of life inspire me so?

The following words came in a brainstorm as I think about this and begin writing.

- resonance
- longing
- roots
- family
- the land
- identity
- authenticity
- passion
- connection

RESONANCE: richness or significance especially in evoking an association or strong emotion

You know that feeling when something strikes you deep to the core? A feeling of recognition, attraction, intuition and knowing? There are moments in life when I've recognized this feeling.  I know when it happens and it is important for me to stop and pay attention. I do not know how this works exactly but I do have my thoughts on why it happens. Sometimes things add up and line up. Clear signs point you in a certain direction. I believe my ancestors have a hand in this, like they are beckoning to me, calling to me and I am following their lead.

LONGING: a yearning desire

My ancestor's blood runs through my veins. In my body there is genetic and a kind of energetic memory linking me back to the places where my people lived, loved, toiled and died. I am learning, teaching myself about the places and ways because so much was lost to me when my family became "American". It's a very common phenomenon isn't it? Immigrants come to the new world and and settle into new ways. They melt into the melting pot in order to work, raise families - survive. Yet our roots are left raw and exposed.  Some families work hard to stay connected to the old country, the heartland. And some families slowly assimilate to become more American. I long for a deeper connection with and understanding of the old ways.

My grandmother Stella left Poland for America in her early teens. She wrote letters to her family in Poland and even went back for a visit in the mid-80s. She spoke Polish but did not teach it to her children or grandchildren. She was always making and sharing Polish foods with the family: pierogi, golumbki, kielbasa, poppyseed roll. She tended her small garden and loved watching the flowers bloom.
My grandmom, Stella
My Hungarian great-grandfather George and my great-grandmom Angel were connected to their family in Hungary. George was born in America but went back to his ancestor's village to find his wife, Elizabeth. Much later he returned to visit his family a year or two before his death. When George and Elizabeth passed on there was no longer a strong connection between the families across the land and ocean.

No one is to blame. Times and circumstances change. I'm sure the politics of the time, WWII and then the cold war between capitalist America and communist Poland and Hungary, did not help to keep the ties strong for the next generations. However, one needs a place to grow, a place to settle and go deep, a place of understanding and connection with what came before. One needs to feel a connection with community, family, traditions, history, stories of their place and of their ancestors.

The writer, Wendell Berry writes about being a placed person. Perhaps the following words I found by Wallace Stegner can partly explain this feeling of longing I have. (This excerpt is taken from "The Sense of Place" by Wallace Stegner. Copyright 1992 by Wallace Stegner.)

"If you don’t know where you are, says Wendell Berry, you don’t know who you are. Berry is a writer, one of our best, who after some circling has settled on the bank of the Kentucky River, where he grew up and where his family has lived for many generations. He conducts his literary explorations inward, toward the core of what supports him physically and spiritually. He belongs to an honorable tradition, one that even in America includes some great names: Thoreau, Burroughs, Frost, Faulkner, Steinbeck – lovers of known earth, known weathers, and known neighbors both human and nonhuman. He calls himself a “placed” person."

"... if every American is several people, and one of them is or would like to be a placed person, another is the opposite, the displaced person, cousin not to Thoreau but to Daniel Boone, dreamer not of Walden Ponds but of far horizons, traveler not in Concord but in wild unsettled places, explorer not inward but outward. Adventurous, restless, seeking, asocial or antisocial, the displaced American persists by the million long after the frontier has vanished. He exists to some extent in all of us, the inevitable by-product of our history: the New World transient. "

"Back to Wendell Berry, and his belief that if you don’t know where you are you don’t know who you are. He is not talking about the kind of location that can be determined by looking at a map or a street sign. He is talking about the kind of knowing that involves the senses, the memory, the history of a family or a tribe. He is talking about the knowledge of place that comes from working in it in all weathers, making a living from it, suffering from its catastrophes, loving its mornings or evenings or hot noons, valuing it for the profound investment of labor and feeling that you, your parents and grandparents, your all-but-unknown ancestors have put into it. He is talking about the knowing that poets specialize in."

I long for this knowing and by following a path of longing and resonance I have begun to make connections to a deeper understanding of who I am and where I come from. My ancestors call to me on this journey. The quest simultaneously connects me to the heartlands of Poland and Hungary and roots me to my home in the hills of New England. As I move ahead and dig deep many things appear, unfold, resonate and become recognized. Connections are made. A path continues to unfold with every step I take.

My father's ancestors were Polish and Hungarian people of the land. They were from the small villages of Korczyna, Poland and Harskut Hungary. My great-grandfather Jan was born in the thatched roof, white washed cottage in Korczyna, Poland pictured above. My great-great grandmother and Cocia, Aniela and Aniela, are photographed wearing kierchiefs and aprons on their land in Korczyna.

My great-great grandmother Aniela surrounded by her daughters, my great grandmother and aunts in Poland
Ciocia Aniela, Korczyna, Poland
My dad can remembers his Babci Helena's gardens in Philadelphia, where she and Jan landed with their children, one of them being my grandmom Stella, after emigrating to America in the 1930s from Poland. Jan knew that true wealth was having land. So when he bought his small row home he bought the undeveloped lot next door. This lot became their orchard and garden. My dad helped with the garden chores and fondly remembers his grandmother's raspberry jam.

My great-grandfather Jan
My dad with Grandmom Angel Repas and Babci Helena
My dad went on to college then the Air Force to become an airline pilot. His work was in the sky. My parents are not avid gardeners. Some pretty flower beds are tended to and the lawn is always mowed. We did not raise or preserve our own food. The pulse of my heart moved me to pursue learning about and practicing gardening for the sake of beauty and food. I woke up to this fact in my early 20's after university when I spent a couple years working on a large fruit orchard in Solebury, PA. The desire to connect to the land and work it is running strong in my blood.

I used to wonder about my obsession with gardening? Where did it come from? One of the most satisfying things to me is working in the dirt with the plants, flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables. A quiet day spent alone outside with the sounds of the wind and songbirds as my company is heaven. The making of beds, planting of seeds and removal of weeds marks the time passing. My feet connect to the earth, I breathe fresh air, feel the warm sun or the cool mists. While sitting in on a sociology class in Poland the professor lectured that peasants love the land more than anything. They have a very strong sense of territory. How can we not love that which sustains us? The peasants were completely and utterly tied to working the land and the land itself. Their work, traditions, symbols, stories, rituals, costume reflect this in a profound way. They were not separate. Life was not easy. There is a fundamental truth to living in balance with the seasons, the crops, the weather, the dirt.

Nowadays so much can get in the way of this truth. I like how the Polish author Wieslaw Mysliwski writes about our fundamental tie to the land in his book, "Stone Upon Stone":

"When death is staring you in the face even a college graduate becomes a person again, so does an engineer. At those times everything falls off life like leaves dropping from a tree in the fall, and you're left like a bare trunk.  At those times you're not drawn to the outside world but back to the land where you were born and grew up, because that's your only place on this earth. In that land, even a tomb is like a home for you."

Certain places resonate strongly with an individual. Do we remember things on a cellular level? Are ties and memories passed on from generation to generation through blood, DNA, spirit?  It's interesting to me that there is such a similarity in climate and landscape between Korczyna, Poland and Harskut, Hungary, the rural landscape around the Philadelphia area and even in Cummington, MA where I make my home. Rolling hills, green hay fields, wooded forests, distinct seasonal changes. I feel so at home in these places. They are familiar.

Outside of Harskut, Hungary

Village home and land in Harskut, Hungary

On the road between Krakow and Korczyna, Poland
Korczyna, Poland
I fell in love with the landscape around Krakow, Korczyna, and Harskut. The orchards there were full of plums, apples, cherries, walnuts, peaches, pears, elderberry. Most homes seemed to have a large garden with cabbage, potatoes, dill, currants, raspberries, blueberries, carrots, beets. At long last I met family and connected with them in such a meaningful way. They were wonderful hosts, so caring and hospitable, and happy to share with me their lives and lifestyles. My cousins Anna and Karol had their own large gardens at their homes in and outside of Korczyna.  They proudly showed me their garden plots and fed us the goodies growing there.

Anna in her garden harvesting potatoes for dinner

Karol with his garden outside of his parish house
Times have changed for my relatives in Poland and Hungary yet I can still see how their deep ties to the land manifest. Cousin Paulina gave me honey from her mother's hives. Her grandfather Roman shared homemade fruit wine with me in his home during an afternoon visit. In Hungary, my cousin Anci and her husband Laszlo have a large parcel of land a short drive from their home in another village near Harskut. Their parcel is full of wine grapes and fruit trees. Hungary is wine country. We spent a memorable evening on this land under a grape arbor with Laszlo playing the accordian and all of us singing and sharing songs. Tears were shed that night. The moment was so meaningful.

Me, Laszlo and Bencsi under the grape arbor

Hungarian wine grapes

Laszlo's vineyard and orchard
Roots, family and the land take on a deeply meaningful role. There is nothing like sitting around with one's family on a beautiful day, outdoors, enjoying company and literally the fruits of big gardens and hard work. Since connecting with my living family overseas and the land of Poland and Hungary, I begin to understand my family and myself more. My questions about who I am and where I come from are slowly answered. Still, I have so many questions and such yearning for further connection. This longing pushes me ahead and my ancestors pull me forward on a journey. I'm taking steps on a path where resonance unlocks the answers to many a mystery. 

I will explore these themes more in future posts where I'll write about identity, authenticity, passion and connection and how these ideas play out in my art practice on A Call from the Ancestors.

My Grandmom with my Grandmom Angel holding me as a baby in her arms

Late Winter: A season all it's own...

The quality of the light in late winter is distinct in my mind. I've felt for a long time that the end of February through early March seems like a season all it's own. It is not spring yet but it doesn't feel like winter anymore. The light is noticeably returning as I can see the time on the clock at 6am without having to turn the light on. The evenings are stretching out so that I see the western horizon line faintly aglow as I look out the window while nursing Kaz to sleep. I am a creature of light and love how the play of seasons and the time of day is forever changing the pallette in which I dwell.

Last Friday I found myself taking the long way home from an outing to the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, MA. The mountains are just a little more dramatic over that way and I loved losing myself on the country roads, passing dairy farms and expansive vistas as I drove higher and higher in elevation. The whites of the snow also became shades of blue, gray and purple as the sky, light and shadows, played across open fields and forested mountainsides.

Another marker to this season, which is other than winter and spring, is the flowing of the sap within the trees. Things are stirring and coming back to life. A highlight of living here in New England is the marking of this time with Maple syrup making. It's been a couple years since we've tapped some of our Maple trees but today we put in six taps and hung from them the metal buckets to collect the sap. We don't make a big production out of this, just a little fun and work which gets us outside with the end result being a quart or two of syrup for morning pancakes and waffles. I look forward to checking the buckets everyday to see if they need emptying and putting a large stock pot full of the sap on the wood stove to eventually be boiled down to the sweet syrup. I find that getting out this time of year is special. The chirping of the chicadees have that beautiful springtime quality, the sun is higher in the sky and shines down a bit stronger.


October is drawing to it's end and time continues moving it's swift pace. The season of fertile summer, flowers, babies, green leaves, warm days is very much behind us as I take a deep breath and begin to catch up with my life. For me, since June, it's been the season of "baby".  For awhile I barely attended to what I would normally be doing in the summer and early autumn.  The feeling of newness and unfamiliarity is shifting into another state. Kaz, Josh and I have really become a unit and now the new normal is settling in. Some routines have been established and still there is a lot that keeps us on our toes. I imagine that raising children keeps you on your toes at all stages, so here we are. Yet despite this awesome focus of most my attention, some attention is being refocused back on me and my

We have a new home studio/office that we built last spring.  As I sit here typing the rain falls, I look out the new, big picture window and I notice that most of the leaves are off the trees. The beech trees are the last to shed their leaves in our woods and I can see their green, yellow hue mixed in with the newly exposed greys and browns of bark and branches. I love when once again I can see the skeletons of trees and the space around us in the new way. We have a western view of the hills across from us, once the leaves are gone, where it is nice to watch the sun set.

Kaz and I took a couple drives in the last few weeks and I brought my camera along to take some photos. It's lovely and mysterious when the mists and fog cling to the hills and trees this time of year creating mystery and reflecting this time of dying.  The killing frost came letting me know it's time to put the gardens to bed. On a chilly rainy, night last week my beloved feline friend, Gilligan died. This loss magnifies the autumn feeling as I deal with my grief and loneliness for a dear being who touched me so deeply. I will post more on Gilligan in the near future as he shared a rich meaningful life with us and I have some good stories to share. Everything has it's season. There are many old cemeteries tucked away on dirt roads in the towns where I live. I love visiting them from time to time and reading all the names of people who were here before.  Good old fashioned names appear like Ebenezer, Josiah, Hannah...

Next to the Streeter Cemetery on Old Stage Road some cows wandered over to the stone wall and seemed curious as to what I was doing. I explained that I just wanted to take a few pictures as they posed for their cow portrait.

Finally, I can't end this post with out a picture of Kazmir and I in our warm, wooly sweaters, snuggling up at the Ashfield Fall Festival.

June Blooms

I think June may be my favorite month in the garden. There is somethings about waking up to the first morning light paired with a particular call of a type of bird in the forest that sweetly sings back and forth to each other as the sun rises. The lengthening days, some cool and some warm, filled with green growth and colorful blooms make me want to go outside and take a look around at least a few times a day. I love where I live. I love all of it's seasons but there is something about June. A kind of calm, comfortable happiness comes over me. Here are some views taken in my garden, a clients garden that I care for and around my neighborhood celebrating this special time.

... a ride through Cummington to a garden I work in...

...some columbine, irises and containers at the garden I care for...

... my husband found a few patches of a wildflower called Lady Slippers in our woods. He took me out there for a walk to show them to me. I'm happy to see that so many special native plants make their home in our woods.

...the roses smell so good in my garden around the house. I think I may look up a rose cordial recipe. I bought a cordial in Krakow last summer that is if I can figure out how to make it myself. That would be nice.

 ...we have many frogs and tadpoles that take up residence in our little pond...

...these Alliums look like fire crackers to me...

...a June view of my front yard garden...

Trillium Time

The greens this time of year are my favorites. From the moss on a wet rock beside a stream, to the fuzzy green texture as I look at many different trees leafing out on a wooded hillside in the distance and as I look up at the sky through the emerging leaf canopy. Spring green is so fresh, so unspoiled, so special.  I spent a couple hours in the woods around my house looking this past warm Sunday afternoon. Looking at the green, looking at the water and rocks, and looking for the plants I love to see and visit this time of year. One of my favorite wild native plants is the Trillium.  I found a Trillium island. A rock settled in the stream with a stand of Trillium growing on it. I imagined it is a small fairy like oasis on a big mossy rock, a place I would like to see if I ever shrunk, "Alice-in-Wonderland style", to see and experience from a much smaller perspective.  On the way back to the house I found a place hosting many Jack-in-the Pulpit plants. I bent down to gently lift the lid of the flower and peek inside. Time in nature never ceases to amaze me. The older I get, the more I enjoy it. It feels like every season and every year is a chance to visit old friends and also the chance to see and sense with a newness and freshness. I'm so looking forward to sharing these special places and plants with my child and watching them become aware of how things spiral back around in a familiar, seasonal comforting ways and yet how each year brings a whole new opportunity for fresh perspective, growth and engagement.

Something Else I've Been Creating...

As you can see, I have been working on another important creation for awhile. A baby and my belly grew and grows as I work on card designs, gouaches, paper cuts and a small business plan. This past fall and winter leading through the spring to early summer is a time of important creativity. We anticipate the arrival of our first little one in early July. 

I've been holding off on writing about this big development openly on my blog as it's been a personal, quiet time that Josh and I have been enjoying these past months. Yet as I head into my third trimester it feels good to really bring this reality out as there are thoughts I'm sure I'll want to share and many things in my life and work that will reflect the changes happening.

It's been a time of much anticipation, excitement and change. It's curious and interesting to me that I'm preparing to give birth to my creative business around the same time of giving birth to this being and welcoming him or her into Josh's and my life. I'm reaching a new stage in my adult life and I'm enjoying this rite of passage. Although, to honest, there are also those awake early morning, 3am, thoughts swirling around my head wondering if I can pull all this off? wondering what it will be like to be a new mom? thinking about the preparations that need to happen for the baby's arrival and looking forward to meeting the little one face to face. 

It is a time of wondrous wonderings.


Walking towards the chicken coop 
smell of dirt, mud, dampness, melting snow.
Singing birds flitting 
tree top to tree top.
A robin stands on the top branch of a shrub.

Soft white light reflecting off gray barked trees, 
green mossy rocks, 
the brown, tans of hibernating grass.
Warm sun rays reaching through my sweater,
I walk into the shed.
Opening the door to the nests
I see three eggs waiting.

Pussycat with Poppies

One would think my cat Gilligan was the creator of this new design by the look on his face. In fact he does often have a presence with most things...his strong personality seems to claim ownership of a place, a thing or a person he loves. I think I will make him Vice President of the handmade design business I am developing. Something tells me he'll be the perfect guy for the job.

March 1st Snowy Day

Inside the warm house this morning I finished painting in one of three new drawings. I thought you might like to see it. Feels like the anticipation of spring is coming out in colors in the art and around the house.

Outside the snow has been falling for over 24 hrs. It's so beautiful out there. The junkos and chicadees have been stationed around the feeder hashing out who gets what and when. The atmosphere seems a little tense as I've noticed the birds are fighting with each other over the seeds. Here they're resting on the lilac next to the feeders.
I headed out for a walk to take some pictures and get some fresh air. I like these shots of the two neighboring old, red, farmhouses in their snowy scenery.

The beaver pond is beautiful any time of year. Some geese flew back this week to start this season's habitation of the pond. I hope they are under cover and staying warm. I wonder if this snow surprised them?

What's Cooking?

Whole Food Kitchen

A dear friend signed up to take this online whole foods course a month or two ago and included me as her friend on this journey. She said, "Kim, February is a great time of year to get some fresh inspiration in the kitchen, new wholesome recipe ideas and learn about many tools and supports to transform your kitchen and meals into a healthy and delicious experience." At the time I thought, "Sure. Why not? I'll try it." She was right. I wasn't aware until this week how the mid-winter, what should I cook?... I want to eat healthy....thoughts had been nagging subconsciously in the back of my mind. This course is just what I need. Thanks BethMarie!

I'm at the very beginning of the 3 month long course and I am super inspired! It does not have to be a time consuming project and right now that is a good thing. I'm finding that I can take the information shared and run with it or be selective in what I try and how much I'm involved.

Yesterday I tried three new recipes and all were delicious and simple to make. Want to see?

-Sesame Ginger Spinach Noodle Salad
-Honey Miso Baked Tofu


-Raspberry Oat Bars

We sure ate good last night! The minced cilantro, spinach and carrot gave the Sesame Ginger Noodles a great texture and lots of healthy vitamins, nutrients and fiber. The Raspberry Oat Bars were a fun new experiment on how to healthfully satisfy my sweet tooth. The recipe called for Sucanat but I tried using coconut palm sugar instead.  This sweetener is from the nectar of coconut palm blossoms. It's organic, nutritious and is a low glycemic index sweetener. I've found my alternative to the evil white stuff.

Check out the Whole Food Kitchen's creator's blog Beauty That Moves. I've just begun looking at it but it seems to be full or beautiful photographs, inspirations and has links to various workshops Heather teaches about nutrition.

I think I'll go eat some lunch now. 

I hope you have a healthy, happy weekend!

February in Bloom

We're a week into February and although this winter has been relatively mild, without a lot of snow, I still enjoy looking at the juxtaposition of my house plants, which live near the windows, against the icy, bare treed outdoors. I have a big picture window in the kitchen/dining area and put all the plants that are blooming there yesterday to take a picture. The amaryllis my mom gave me for Christmas began blooming this past week. Cyclamen, geranium and euphorbia are blooming now too and the jasmine is about to go into blossom. What is better than having some alive color in the house this time of year? When the jasmine goes into bloom the unmistakable scent comes along to brighten the house too.

Last week was a good week but also challenging. I have had feelings of being overwhelmed lately by my desires and goals. I have a number of projects I'm working on right now.  I'm creating two series of card designs and these are in the works. I continue to think about and look into my desire to create my own small home business. I'm trying to put into words what I am creating and why for my business plan and also so I can share my vision with potential clients and businesses that may hire me or carry my designs. I just signed up for and started a Photoshop course at a nearby community college as I have a big need to learn how to master computer art and design programs. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, these computer design programs are not easy for me to learn. My brain starts to hurt and feel overwhelmed by all of the options, choices, symbols and actions programs like Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator have. I know I'm just beginning and that I need to be patient and keep trying. It's hard though especially when doubts come a creeping into my brain.

Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed I have a hard time motivating, creating and focusing. I had such a day last week. I just couldn't be productive the way I had hoped and planned. I went for a walk, cooked food for some friends who had a tragic and untimely death in their family and read a book but I sure didn't make any head way on my list of goals set for my creations and small business. While this is happening I begin to think negatively about myself and my ability to achieve my goals. Uhhggg. My whole life and being comes into question and doubts lurk, ready to make themselves known. As if an unproductive day isn't hard enough? Why do I have to go into self doubt mode?

Well, it was just a day.... and I did accomplish some of my goals this week. Some days and weeks are just better than others. The flowers and how they bloom in their season, when ready, remind me that you can't necessarily force things. Sometimes I need to be ok with following unconscious rhythms, having slow days and trusting that I will have rock n roll days too. I still strive to blossom and realize my hopes and potential. I desire the naturalness and peacefulness I see and witness as my amaryllis unfurled it's blossom over the past days, as my cats have their rhythms without judgement of themselves and as the chickens uninhibitedly enjoy longer days spent under the hemlock tree and in the sunshine while receiving energy as their egg laying picks up. We all have our own rhythms.  The amaryllis, cats and chickens seem to be OK with theirs. Why is it sometimes hard for me to be OK with mine?


January Sunny Snow Day

 I wish I had a device with me to record the sounds that followed me on the rounds of my morning chores this morning. We got another beautiful dusting of sparkling white snow last night. I awoke to find the sun out, bright, shining and reflecting off the snow. The sounds that accompanied me as I filled the wild bird feeders, fed the chickens and admired the the fresh snow was a steady wind whispering through the pines, maples, beech and birch trees that surround my gardens and the cheerful chirps of Chicadees, Goldfinches, and Juncos with a random cry of the Blues Jays here and there coming from the trees. The brisk feel of the air along with the sun on my face made for a very sensory morning. Come along with me to see what's happening this morning...

 Patterns of frost decorate the garage window panes....

 Distant snowy hill as I look out over the garden's raspberry and blueberry patch....

 A neighbor's cat leaving a trace of it's early morning walk through the apple trees...

Winter butterfly bush and sunflower shadows...

Now I know where the expression "cooped up" comes from as the chickens don't like to put their feet in the snow. Although the door is open, lately they choose to spend their time in here.

 Winter berry, white pine and hemlock arrangement in the snow...

Chores are done so I settle into my studio to work with proper refreshment...

Papercuts are on the agenda. My goal is to make twelve "Tree of Life" designs this month. Here is one that is almost finished....

Now, back to work. Thanks for sharing my morning with me!

No Place Like Home...Cummington Part 5

We're into October, the rain finished falling for now on Stage Road, the temperatures are warm and the sun looks and feels golden. The autumn days this past weekend have been perfect. Perfect for me to connect to my gardens almost all day on Saturday. Lovely for our friend's annual cider pressing party today. The leaves are turning beautiful colors. They're probably at peak color now. Josh and I headed over to the western hills on the other side of the village of Cummington to see friends, press apples for cider and eat homemade doughnuts. But first we needed to stop a couple of places to gather apples off and around the trees where we have been given permission to pick. While driving over to one of the apple trees where we picked  we saw a man in the golden light working in the hay field. One last crop before the weather turns colder and the days get even shorter. The kids have a blast working the apple press. So did Josh and I. Sitting in the fridge now is a half gallon jar of fresh apple juice. Sometimes it's nice to just stay close to home.


This is my cousin Anna's home in Korczyna where I stayed last weekend. My cousin Lukasz brought me to his mother's house on Friday where we met up with his wife, two little girls, mother and sister. It was a hot and sultry day in Krakow and I was exhausted and sweaty upon boarding the bus. After 15 minutes of down time, with eyes shut, I was able to talk and laugh with my cousin and take in the beautiful countryside as we drove out of Krakow. The last hour of the ride was particularly magical as the landscape became even more hilly and rural. A thunderstorm had rolled through the area. Lukasz and I were talking about growing roots and connecting to place when I spotted a double rainbow out the window. What a wonderful way to enter the land of my ancestors. We rolled up and down over hills to our destination, Krosno, which is the county seat of Korczyna.  What I was seeing, the green hills, huge gardens and orchards, wooded land, cottages and houses looked like home...the ideal homeland that I've been carrying in my heart for a long time. Interestingly, it reminds me a bit of the hills I call home in western Massachusetts. 

My grandmother was born in Korczyna. She left this place in 1939 at thirteen.The church is in the center of town with grassy pathways webbing and connecting to people's properties so that it is an easy and pleasant walk to Mass. Huge gardens filled with vegetables and fruit couple with almost every house in the village. Along with her vegetable and flower garden my cousin also has cherry, walnut, apple, elderberry, currants, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries in abundance. I met other relatives, connections to my great-grandmother who had 13 siblings. Descendants of these siblings still inhabit the village in family homes or on family property. I met some of these cousins as we took a walk on Saturday evening and one man pulled out old photos which included photo's of my, dad, cousins, aunts, the Philadelphia area. I don't want to say to much. Now I want to share my pictures with you.

I felt a real connection to this place and was so warmly and graciously welcomed by my family who are also new friends. I will be back there in two weeks to go on a mountain hike and visit more with family.