Laundry Day: Calm Between Storms

What a week! My mom lost electricity for several days due to the first storm, on March 2nd, so she stayed with me for a few days.

I’m so glad that I had power! Especially living in Quincy, where there was crazy rain, flooding, wind damage and dozens of people had to be rescued by the National Guard. While I’ve often been jealous of those who live closer to the beach, I’ve recently been very appreciative of living on a hill.

Then we had another storm this week. I walked to and from the train for work during both storms and luckily wasn’t hit by any falling trees, wires or debris. I saw a piece of siding ripped off a house and go flying into the air. I’ve already barely missed being hit by a tree and hope my luck continues.

With all the chaos, my laundry has piled up. So today is the day.

While sipping my coffee this morning, I found an article about modernizing your laundry routine. Two sisters from Germany moved to Brooklyn and opened a really cool eco-friendly and sustainable laundromat with a cafe and backyard space. Wish there were a place like that in Quincy!

The sisters are interviewed about laundry and one of their suggestions is to use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. They are cheaper overall, less wasteful and healthier. Seems like a great idea, so I found a DIY blog post and might make make my own felted wool dryer balls. We’ll see.

Have you tried dryer balls? What do you think?

Well, last I heard, we’re supposed to have another storm on Monday or Tuesday. I haven’t checked again, because it’s too exhausting at this point. I’ll just enjoy the calm between the storms. Have a good weekend!

How I Made My American Quilt

Folded patchwork quilt on top of bed spread.

Remember when I ran to make the train and fell on the tracks? That was my most recent lesson in learning to slow down and be patient.

Well, this post shows that sometimes I can be patient. The quilt pictured above is the result of nearly twelve years of patience!

For me, the key to patience is to forget about whatever I’m trying to be patient about and do other things. Time will pass and often things will work out as originally intended.

I’m grateful for blogging, because it helps me figure out the timing of when things happened. February 2008 was my first quilting post. But I had already started quilting before that.

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My quilting journey started in the summer of 2005. My mom and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and saw an exhibit called The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.

I have never been a fan of traditional quilts. Had never wanted a quilt. Not the ones that I had seen.

Then I saw the quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend and realized that quilts can be so much more. My perspective of what defines a quilt changed.

Photo of back of quilt next to photo of quilt folded on top of cushioned stool.

They can be beautiful and boho. Modern and freestyle. Jazzy. Sexy. Solid colors. Different textures. Sewn by intuition without a pattern. Sewn by hand. Using pieces of fabric from old clothes alongside new fabric.

It was possible to quilt the way I cook and bake. Using the foods that I have on hand and improvising a new recipe. I could create a style of quilting that matched my personality. This exhibit gave me freedom and permission. I could do exactly what I wanted. With no limitation or rules.

I learned about quilts with hidden messages made by slaves. I learned that as an African American woman, quilting is my birthright. This exhibit was like breathing fresh air. I claimed myself.

Looking back I can see the journey. Finding myself anew. Bit by bit over time. I started blogging within a year of seeing this exhibit — and pushing my freelance writing. Trying to manifest my dreams. I started doing yoga and meditating.

As I’m writing this post, I am seeing even more. A relationship that I had been in (on and off for far too long) had a clear and definite ending. My heart was so broken. More than I care to admit. It’s taken a long time to mend. Maybe too long. The mending happened in ways that I did not expect. Within another relationship and while alone. I’ve learned many lessons. And I’ve quilted here and there along the way. Over many years.

In 2013, I blogged a picture of my quilt in progress. In 2014, I took part of the quilt and used it as the covering for a chair cushion.

I worked on it, then put it away and forgot about it. Then remembered it. Worked on it and put it away — and that pattern repeated. Focusing on other things and knowing that it would be finished eventually. When the timing was right. Going with the flow.

Quilt spread out on rug, patches of blue denim, along with other prints and textures.

At the end of 2015, I finished reading Marie Kondo‘s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I started tidying and finished tidying around April 2016. Well look at that, about a year ago.

Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot and move forward with many things. Clearing out the old to make room for the new. So about a month ago, I started feeling like I needed to clear out more things and finish the quilt. I set a deadline for last Sunday and finished last Saturday night in the wee hours.

It’s done. What a journey!

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Updated 4/28/2020: Since I’ve been so inspired by the women of Gee’s Bend, I was happy, yet sad, to read about how the pandemic has impacted their community. The women have turned to making face masks instead of quilts.

Hey Boston! It Just Snowed. Got Hygge?

Picture of oatmeal, scones, banana bread, winter foods that evoke hygge.

We just got our first substantial snow of the winter in the Boston area. While not a fan of snow, I’m all about the cozy. So I find ways to enjoy the season.

A favorite winter breakfast is oatmeal with maple syrup, walnuts, dried cranberries and vanilla soy milk. I’ve been baking recentlyscones and banana bread. A snack for me and gifts for others.

With all that’s going on in this country at the moment, it’s important to take time for self-care. To gather inner strength. To steady ourselves. Without that we won’t be ready for whatever lies ahead as we enter a new American era.

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The United States is thousands of miles from Denmark. We have very different forms of government and culture. But we have cold weather and dark winters in common. So right now I’m taking something from Danish culture to see me through this time — hygge.

In case you’re not familiar with term, it’s pronounced “hooga” and is about the appreciation and art of coziness. I have seen many different definitions for it, but here is one from Denmark’s tourism website.

In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life.

cozy_home_hygge

A blog called Hygge House gives another perspective on the word.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, contentness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness and the undefinable feeling of Hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate or acknowledge and to break up the day, months or years. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one’s spirit.

We can all define what the word means to us as individuals. For me, right now, it’s about making my home a warm cozy place where I can retreat and gather my thoughts and my calm.

As an introvert, that’s vital. Home is where I recharge. But It’s also a place where I can invite friends and family.

What about you?

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Have a Joyful Weekend!

Black_Girl_MagicIsn’t her smile delightful?

Here’s hoping that you have a weekend filled with whatever brings you that kind of joy.

My plan is to continue and maybe finish tidying. Yup! Tidying brings me joy! I am a Virgo after all.

I’ve noticed the effects already and feel sparked and more organized, so I can move forward with some new projects. Some old ones too.

One of them is to get my taxes done. Here in Massachusetts, because Monday is a holiday, we have until Tuesday, April 19th this year to get our tax returns in. I’m hoping for a refund. If so, I just might have a smile as wide as Mr. Grant’s daughter. Happy weekend to you!

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Photo: The New York Public Library Digital Collections

This Weekend: The Big Tiny House Festival

the BIG tiny house Festival

More people are starting to become aware of the tiny house movement. I wrote a magazine article about it a few years ago. This summer I watched a movie on Netfix called TINY: A Story About Living Small. It’s a great movie by the way.

If you don’t have Netflix and you live near Somerville, Massachusetts, you can see a screening of the film on Saturday, September 20th from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.

The screening is taking place at The BIG tiny house festival this weekend. People of all kinds who are involved in the creation of tiny homes to those just interested in finding out more will be gathering to discuss this more simple lifestyle. On Sunday, there will be workshops. Learn more about the festival by clicking here.

Have a great weekend!

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Photo Credit: Somerville Arts Council