Sewing

I fell in love with William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting Sewing (1898) when I was about twelve years old. I thought this calm and pensive little girl was so beautiful, and I made up my own stories about her life and interests.

The sweetness of this child still makes me smile. Sometimes I think of her, and the innocence this painting represents, when I sew.

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, publisher of Classic Sewing Magazine, has a gracious blog called The Ribbon in My Journal. Last week she shared the history of sewing machines. Most of my sewing has been embroidery by hand, but I recently began learning to use my Singer sewing machine. Continue reading

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Seasons and Celebrations

“To understand the calendar is to grasp in a new way the huge significance of the Christian faith, and to understand the role it continues to play in our common life.”

Every December I reread A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations because the Liturgical (Church) Year begins with Advent, the four-week season before Christmas.

British journalist and author Joanna Bogle’s A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations is my fifth book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading Challenge. Her book is a descriptive compilation of traditions associated with Christian feast days, as they have been celebrated particularly in England. She presents recipes, songs, games, crafts, and customs for each feast day or season of the year. Many of them are centuries old, and their origins are fascinating. Continue reading

Would You Take Love Advice from an Italian Woman?

“How do you actually measure a year in your life?” writes Costanza Miriano in the provocatively entitled Marry Him and Be Submissive: Radical Advice from a Real Woman About Marriage, Love, Kids, Work, Play & Everything Else. “By dawns and dusks?…A year should be measured by the number of times you’ve put aside your own preferences so as to give yourself to another person. It’s measured in the life that you have transmitted to another person–not necessarily a son or daughter, but someone smaller than you, weaker, poorer.”

Costanza Miriano is an Italian journalist with RAI (Italian public television). Her refreshing addition to the genre of relationship advice provides what too many American books are missing: la gioia della vita.

Miriano’s Marry Him and Be Submissive: Radical Advice from a Real Woman About Marriage, Love, Kids, Work, Play & Everything Else is my second book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading ChallengeHer thoughts on love, marriage, and family life take the form of letters to her single and married friends, as follow-ups to phone conversations at wits’ end over boyfriends, husbands, or incorrigible bambini. Continue reading

Of Course You Can

One of my earliest memories is my mother taking her friend upstairs to our hall bathroom to share the unique floral Marimekko shower curtain she had just designed and sewn. The fabric matched the wallpaper.

I must have been only three years old, but I remember being impressed with the idea that Mom could do anything. If she wanted something specific, with distinctive style, she could create it herself. This was a liberating concept with which to grow up, and that’s what a sewing machine says to me to this day.

Mom gave me my first full-size sewing machine for my birthday two years ago–Singer’s 9960 Quantum Stylist. Feeling like a teenager driving a new car, I made a lightweight shower curtain for the second full bathroom/guest bathroom in the home of a close friend. Continue reading

French Women Live the Seasons

“In the twenty-first century, we can no longer expect to receive lifestyle as an inheritance; it has become a matter of active choice,” writes Mireille Guiliano.

Guiliano’s French Women for All Seasons. is my first book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading Challenge.

This book is the sequel to French Women Don’t Get Fat, Guiliano’s guide to the secrets French women know, and many in the West have forgotten, about enjoying life without overdoing things. Continue reading

Europe, Memory, and the Heart: 2017 Reading Challenge

I’ve never participated in a reading challenge before, but my friend Gilion at Rose City Reader just published her 2017 European Reading Challenge.

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I love Europe, from St. Patrick’s Ireland to pre-Bolshevik Russia and medieval Norway to ancient Greece. I made an effort this year to focus on reading more whole books, and that brought a freshness to my mental routine that I knew I needed. Continue reading

These Hawaiian Waves Carry Memories

“Who goes to Hawaii for the weekend?” my coworker teased me. Well, I was going. Actually, it was a long weekend.

I’ve learned that one of the keys to happiness in traveling is being able to enjoy an experience without being concerned that “I don’t have enough time.” Simply being grateful for the chance to be there brings a lot of joy out of a few days. And my Waikiki weekend was one of those especially joyful times.

Hawaiian_LullabyThe flight to Honolulu, sitting next to two lovely older ladies, was how I began this vacation-appropriate pattern, “Stroller Blankie” by Lion Brand. (Lion Brand’s patterns are free on their website, but you need to register an email address to have access to their pattern galleries.) It’s made with Lion Brand’s “Ice Cream” yarn in “Lemon Swirl.” Continue reading