Sublime Refresh

Last week my daughter and I were lucky enough to enjoy a Mother-Daughter Girls Getaway with two wonderful friends from our small town. We went to the Northern Peninsula of the Dominican Republic and stayed at a resort called “Sublime Samana”.

And it was.

Sublime.

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I did not know how much my brain ached for a jolt of inspiration until I stepped onto the beach and saw the incredible palette of blues and greens offset by the honey colored sand in the sunlight.

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In the rain the palette transformed  –  gray ribbons of damp sand perfectly echoed the indigo horizon of mountains and fog.
I wanted to weave the rolling stripes of sea and sand, hill and sky into a subtle bargello – a sleepy Ikat calmed by the warm rain and thick silence of the empty beach.

It was four heavenly days of empty quiet punctuated by the sound of the rolling waves, some pattering rain, and long lovely conversations and silences shared between friends – and mothers and daughters – and friends. No schedule, no clock, no urgency – just the bending pattern of each day unfurling in harmony to the whim of the weather.

mystery footprints in the sand

mystery footprints in the sand

sideward scamper

sideward scamper

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The velvet spines of the sand dollar leave a fleeting effigy in the sand

It was hard to decide where to focus – on the expanse of the sea, or the perfection in miniature – tiny shells that were diminutive lessons in the miracle of nature.

We did both.

Sunset Shell Seeking

Sunset Shell Seeking

I looked only for little ones – nothing bigger than a fingernail –

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the tinier the better

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Some dressed in a rainbow of tattersall – the little businessmen of the sea, not one alike

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My favorites were the “rubies”

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little pink pillows that would be so beautiful dangling staccato from a delicate gold chain

It was hard to leave – I wanted to drink in the inspiration and carry it home with me. The shells are my prize, and even they could not leave paradise empty-handed as they claimed their own gifts from the sea

 

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand

And Eternity in an Hour

-Blake

Robin

Wonderful Welcome to 2015

This morning I woke up to greet the New Year and found the most wonderful surprise tied to the bottom of our mailbox in a plain manilla envelope with a simple red ribbon

 

A Love Poem From a Neighbor

A Love Poem From a Neighbor

There was no note, no return address, no identifying marks at all.

Who composed this surprise salutation?  What artist has  secretly penned this marvelous compliment to our house?

I am thoroughly intrigued and utterly perplexed!

What a delightful way to wake to the new year! I have been beaming all day – whoever you are – Thank You! We are humbled by your mysterious kindness and will certainly aim to emulate your gracious geniality throughout the year!  Such a lovely tone you have set for the year –

 

This is the poem –

A Love Poem Form A Neighbor

There were swans on the pond

in South Hamilton

But number 14 Bridge Street

had a pig on the doorstep,

Turtles on the picket fence

and Rabbits and Squirrels

and a pink

Christmas Tree!

Doors painted green

and Rose and Blue,

Boxwoods in intricate

Designs,

Who lives in this yellow

House?

Beatrix Potter?

A Fairy Princess?

A Reformed

Bride of Frankenstein?
It is a gift Box

This house

Decked in Ribbons

and Bows.

Not just for Christmas

But for Mondays

And Rainy Days

And Blue Jays

And All God’s Creatures

Lucky enough

To

Pass

By.

 

 

Robin

When Time Adjourns

DSC_0248I love this particular week of the year. Time is suspended between Christmas and New Years and you can catch your breath. Nowhere to go, no rushing, no wrapping, no last minute treasures to buy, no run to the market for that missing ingredient.  Just pendulous time.  The usual bustle of a weekend gives way to a genuine pause when you can linger on the memories of last year, and savor the hopeful promise of a new one.

In fact, this plumping of time really begins on Christmas morning – the day doubles in size and goes on and on expanding to accommodate all the love, family and festivity that is reserved for this exalted day of the year. It seems to be the one day that really DOES slow down, you want it to last forever and it almost does. The usual idiom “time flies when you’re having fun” is trumped by a tangible distention of time. On almost any other occasion that you want to hold perpetual the moments rush forward unremitting. But not this week. Christmas night unravels into the day after, and then the next day after each swollen with luxurious hours. Time to read, or rest, or visit or

simply. just. be.

Isn’t it extraordinary that the days can be so expansive with the littlest light?

 

Robin

Crafting Winter Weekend in Vermont

Beautiful Wool Yarns for Hooking Rugs

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Winter Weekend Getaway of Crafting and Learning with hosts Charlotte Lyons (House Wren Studio) and Meleen Dupre along with 12 other women who inspired and delighted for four days straight. I had read about their previous weekend on Charlotte’s blog here and Mary Engelbreit’s blog here and was thrilled when I learned I would be able to attend this particular one. I had never met any of the women who went – but you would never know it after four days of continuous mirth and camaraderie. There is nothing like crafting side by side with a cohort of fellow creators to make fast friendships. I will always treasure the memories forged over wool, burlap, paper scraps and food.

Oh did I mention Food?

Delicious Breakfast

We were treated with an abundance of delicious morsels from dawn ’til midnight everyday. Breakfast each morning was an assortment of hot and cold baked and stirred and all scrumptious delights from Meleen’s artful kitchen. From her crockpot French Toast (who knew?) that coalesced overnight to the Four Cheese Polenta with Sauteed Bella mushrooms, pancetta and onions or the homemade meatballs and baked ziti with garlic bread. All of the fare was Comforting with a Capital “C” and fitting a four star gourmet getaway. My taste buds are still reeling from the pampering.

Meleen's Amazing Meatballs and Baked Ziti

Ice Lights Show the Way to the Warm Cottage

Awaiting Another Incredible Meal

Cocktail Hour with Crafters

The path from the crafting cottage to the main house was illuminated with homemade luminaria each evening, leading the way into the converted barn of the main house where we shared laughter and conversation before sitting to share a feast at the long wooden table set with love and light. And laughter – did I mention laugher? I have not laughed that much in ages – tears running down my face laughter- the kind that makes your cheeks hurt from smiling so hard! I cherish the parlance that rolled of the lips of women from all parts of the country – charming accents that I long to adopt and friendly phrases that I want to repeat. But most of all, it was the incredibly fast and genuine friendships that were formed that made you long for promised reunion years into the future.

Of course, the point of the weekend was learning new crafts and creating new treasures. Charlotte and Meleen taught us how to do traditional rug-hooking, both with fabric strips on burlap (that would be stripping, then hooking!) and also with wool yarn on monks cloth (the only time monks stripping and hooking go together). It was fun to learn both ways – but I was drawn to the incredible colors of the yarns donated by The Ruggery on Long Island. Charlotte had designed a lovely heart with a scalloped border for us to play with, and I couldn’t help, but let it wander into my own version of heart and vines and all sorts of colors. I will show you the finished product one of these days!

So Many Choices of Things to Make

Everybody was able to create their heart with their own preferred colors, and style – and it was fun to see the many different versions that were created. We also worked on a large communal frame with a punch needle type of rug hook which was more efficient – but worked from the reverse of the canvas – I liked the freedom of using the traditional hook on the smaller frames that Charlotte and Meleen put together for us (And John! Thank you John for all your hammering of those dastardly and stubborn thumbtacks!)

Loretta takes a stab at the monks cloth (pun intended!)

We were also treated to a wonderful lesson on making wet wool felted soaps using fresh (literally, milked the day before) goats milk soap and fabulous wool roving from Tammy of Wing and A Prayer Farm. Tammy – she deserves at least an entire post dedicated to her talents – go see her beautiful creations here www.wingandaprayerfarm.com

Working the Wet Wool

The Finished Product - wispy wool woven around the soap

Wool Felted Goats Milk Soap

It truly was a magical weekend – from waking at dawn to a cosy fire and steaming coffee, to tucking in at night in a spindle bed with the heady aroma of delicious dinner and warmth all around, I felt like I had won the lottery of vacations – I am bursting with inspiration and energized to create, with much gratitude to these lovely women of the Vermont Crafting Getaway.

Waking to Warmth in Vermont

The stove kept us warm all night, and was a space for quiet contemplation before dawn broke through the sky

"Creativity Takes Courage" with Charlotte and Meleen

Our devoted hosts holding a sign that was one of our take-home treasures donated by Barn Owl Primitives in Leesburg, VA.

Classic Vermont Farm

The Weekend was so refreshing and fun – they are planning the next one May 29 through June 1st. I can’t imagine a nicer way to spend the weekend – go over to Charlotte’s blog and learn more about it here.

Robin

5th Annual Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour

Handpainted backsplash tiles and painted cabinets

Today was the 5th Annual Heart of the Home Kitchen Tour to benefit the Wenham museum! What a great day – We had over 250 visitors tour the nine designer kitchen that spread across the North Shore from Manchester to Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham, Danvers, Beverly and Ipswich. I was honored to be invited to share my kitchen as part of this tour with so many wonderful Boston Kitchen Designers represented!

A wonderful stream of visitors came through the kitchen today – from young couples who were just beginning to design their first kitchen in their first house to a number of fabulously chic women in their 80s who oozed creativity and I wished they could stay all day! I loved meeting each and every one of them and look forward to working with some on their own kitchens! It is always so inspiring to meet with new clients and learn what they are looking for, respond to and just adore. The yellow Big Chill Refrigerator and Stove were both a HUGE hit – I think there will be a few more dotting the north shore come spring. I did not like their original yellow – it was too ‘green’ and ‘cool’ a yellow and did not match my all time favorite yellow – Benjamin Moore Yellow Lotus – so they were able to match my yellow exactly with the powder coat finish on the fridge and the stove. I was thrilled – yes, it did put a hefty addition on the price tag- but I have a fridge and a stove in my all time favorite color.

It was so nice to see everyone SMILE when they walked through the door – everybody remarked on what a Happy Kitchen it was – and is! I had so much fun painting the cabinets and pulling it all together. It is so much fun to pull all these details together.

Big Chill refrigerator and Handpainted cabinets

Fun hand painted cabinets in the peasant style painted for a 21st century kitchen

Antique French Tole Daisy Lanterns

Robin