Spread Some SamShine

April 29th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

photo (15) copyThis past January, deep in the mountains of central Maine, a dear friend of mine suddenly passed away. I am not telling you this to make you sad, I am telling you this because I need you to understand her amazingness. She was like a slice of blue ribbon sour cherry pie—magical and tangy and bold and not fussy at all—and there was never enough of her to go around. She left behind friends, parents, siblings, a sweet husband, a small baby girl, and a school full of eager preschool children.

I met Sam in the fall of 1996. There were roughly a dozen of us working and living together as teachers. I was lucky enough to be chosen as her roommate. Our small wood cabin had twin beds inside separated by a night table, and a guitar in one corner. It was surrounded by woods and ponds and spirited packs of school kids during the day, and stars and owls at night. Sam was possibly the youngest of our bunch, but she quickly established herself as a capable leader and all around rabble-rouser. She oversaw all sorts of social events—extensive scavenger hunts, costumed skits, fireside sing-a-longs—among all of us there were massive week-long games of deception in which personal items were publicly kidnapped and then peculiarly discovered high upon inaccessible rooftops or deep within damp commercial dishwashers. We had fun. We stayed up late. We sang. We laughed. Sam was a natural teacher. She memorized all the lines of The Lorax, collected microscopic critters from pond muck, led wild night hikes in search of Barred owls, and soulfully sang Teach Your Children Well at the week’s end to tearful kids.

Sam loved all that the Earth offered, in every season—spring birdsong, summer rain, fall colors, crisp winter air—its stillness and silence. She approached the world as scientist, teacher, and friend. She celebrated wildness, and she was eager to share her wild love. Sam traveled through the world thoughtfully and intentionally. She moved with all of herself. She put her heart into everything she did. She served as a compass for many.

photo (14) copyThis past January, a few days after Sam was gone, we started a public page as a tribute to her—Spread Some SamShine—a deep-rooted circle of support to put some Light back into the world. The page swiftly grew from a few close friends to several thousand people doing random acts of kindness for others worldwide—an enthusiastic smile, a compliment, a shared snack, a potted plant—as a celebration of Sam’s life. In the midst of it all, some friends bought handfuls of my books and placed them in good hands—libraries, schools and families—in Sam’s name. With each simple random act of kindness like this, Sam’s extraordinary story was shared. And now it is spring. And here we are. Still helping each other move through these days with love.

Death is a mystery. It is horribly heartbreaking, filled with sleepless nights and unanswerable questions. But death it is also refreshingly truthful. It makes you think about your place in the world.

And that is where I am right now.

And so, what if each one of us celebrates Sam’s life, or someone else’s life, in a powerful way like this? What if we create a precious Shine in which we can see a reflection of ourselves, and also a person we’ve lost? What if each of us travels through the world thoughtfully and intentionally—in appreciation, connection and joy—and spreads some SamShine along the way?

I hope you will take a moment on this fine spring day to love deeply and to quietly spread some SamShine. Leave a note below to let me know. It can be as simple as a hug or a kind word or a lunchbox note. Really anything will do.

Pretty Funny Vintage Party!

April 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Photos courtesy of my kind friend Jasena.

Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Seed Bomb SeedlingsIt’s a stunning Earth Day here in New York! Today my book is visiting Here, There and Everywhere where Claudia Heitler is giving away not one but TWO signed copies of “This Book Was a Tree!” Politics, economics, health, science—HTE is the place to go for global news for kids—spanning diverse fields and subjects, HTE addresses current issues in bite-sized pieces for smallish people. Check out Claudia’s site HERE where you’ll find her take on making seed bombs (and enter the GIVEAWAY!).

Tonight I’ll celebrate Earth Day HERE. I would love to see you, but if you are far far away, please celebrate in your own special way. And remember this: Each day, what you do matters. A big ruckus can be generated from a simple purposeful act—a little thing, like scattering small seeds—made by someone just like you. An idea or behavior can move through the world like tow tapping at a scat-singing convention, starting with just a few pit-a-pats of an idea, and spreading rapidly out of control. Each of us is capable of thoughtful direct actions, and we usually greatly underestimate our abilities. We all have something to say. We all have feet to move. We all can give something of ourselves. We all have seeds to scatter. That’s how great rolling prairies of ideas are grown.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Eleven. Warm and Cozy

April 15th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

179746_556533021052508_1273102095_nToday, because it’s a dreary April day in New York and we don’t have enough warm cozy thoughts already circling our heads, we’re going to talk about the fact that my book is visiting Lisa Jordan right this very minute. Today is the opposite of dreary in every way because: felted stones. Because: hand-dyed thread. Because: intricate stitching covering wool cocoons. Because Lisa Jordan gathers materials like acorns and stones and sticks along open shorelines and deep walks in her Minnesota woods, wraps them in a earthy palate of local hand-dyed wool, felts them, and then embroiders them into rich, tranquil nature-inspired scenes. Her blog Lil Fish Studios chronicles her work that is deeply influenced by the tiny overlooked details of nature—odd lumpy bits of moss, the colors of mushrooms, the texture of bark and leaves and stone. All the while stitching on stones, she raises four kids and hatches guinea hens and ducks and chickens in central Minnesota. Check out her blog where you’ll find detailed tutorials for felting stones, building small birch bark canoes, making acorn mushrooms, and sewing pocketed placemats. You can find Lisa’s wool acorns, embellished felted stones, mini landscaped brooches, tiny necklaces, and wearable hand carved vases in her online SHOP and also at Art-o-Mats scattered throughout the United States. And read her take on my book right HERE.

Oh, and just ONE day left to win a FREE copy of my book HERE or HERE. Don’t miss your chance!

Warm, cozy felted stone photo courtesy of Lisa Jordan at Lil Fish Studio.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Ten. Big Smallish Things.

April 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

weekend-9-e1396887711811Starting this week off with a KAPOW! as my book heads down to Candler, North Carolina to visit my friend Ashley English. I honestly don’t know how she’s had had time for me this week, since her book “Handmade Gatherings” (Roost) launched just last week. In addition to her blog Small Measure, Ashley is also the author of the “Homemade Living” (Lark) book series, as well as “A Year of Pies” (Lark)—all highlighting a variety of topics related to small-scale homesteading and environmentally sensible lifestyle choices. Check out Small Measure where she chronicles her homesteading adventures including bee- and chicken-keeping, canning and preserving, and parenting small people in remote western North Carolina. From basic pie dough to cardamom apple butter, late-summer pickles, goat cheese basil frittata, homemade sunburn soothers and wildflower risotto—Ashley provides all the practical, hold-your-hand basics of the important smallish things in life. Find everything right HERE.

And, just a few days left to win a FREE copy of my book HERE, HERE, HERE or HERE. Don’t miss your chance!

Remote, poetic awe-inspiring photo courtesy of Ashley English.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Nine. Inspiration.

April 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

6a00e54fc19bef883301a3fcc0921c970bToday my book has trekked northward to Ontario for a quick visit with my friend Margie, rural family physician and textile artist extraordinaire. For quite some time I’ve been completely mesmerized by her breathtaking crocheted creations—so beautifully documented on her blog Resurrection Fern. Her nature-inspired work is a melding of fractal patterns and repurposed soft vintage threads all carefully worked with crochet hooks to cover earth worn stones and wood and other natural found objects. Lichen, leaves, webs, frost patterns—all are magically woven into intricate lacy designs—patterns guided by the color, texture and shape of nature. And she has so many other talents. You would not believe it. She is lucky that I live 510 miles away. It is next to impossible to keep me from stalking her. My book is with her today. You can visit right HERE.

And, Tinkerlab has taken things a step further and transforms a wool sweater into a funky felted flower—a project inspired by Chapter 10 of “This Book Was a Tree”—check it out right HERE.

Want to win a FREE copy of my book for a friend? Just visit HERE, HERE, HERE and/or HERE!

Enlivening crafty crochet photo courtesy of Margie at Resurrection Fern.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Eight. Tinkerlab!

April 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

sweater-cuttingI am designating TODAY the Official Return of Spring here in New York since I no longer have to fire up the wood stove to thaw my frosty toes. Phew! That winter was memorable with monumental snow dumps piling on top of other crusty colossal snow dumps. And it lingered and was filled with a handful of snow days and igloos and hot cocoa and warm, creamy carb-y foods. The days were incontrovertibly long, and if there were ever a sight that could lift you from your winter drudgery, it would be that gorgeous play-focused spread of projects on Rachelle Doorley’s Tinkerlab blog. Filled with hands-on projects that facilitate questions, conversations, and all-around messiness and tinkering, her stuff is just dreamy. Tinkerlab falls into the all too thin category of Inspiring Blogs for Creative Crafty Kids. It’s the perfect thing to knock the ice off your boots and get you exploring your roots. On a tricky day, Rachelle’s blog has your back. And today you can read her take on my book right HERE plus she has a BOOK GIVEAWAY of a SIGNED COPY! Whoa! And tomorrow…. Rachelle will surprise us with a project from my BOOK. And, you’ll be extra excited to hear that Rachelle’s book “Tinkerlab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Innovators” (Roost) will be released in just a few months.

But why end there when you could take it a step further and check out actual book-y projects at Sara Bakes Cakes?!? Sara makes Cackleberry Sprouts, and…. you can double your chances of winning a book copy with Sara’s GIVEAWAY!

And, lookee HERE! This Book Was a Tree is popping up all over the place!

There are so many other things I wanted to tell you. We could sit and talk for hours and hours about these very important things, but in the end it is the final words that linger on. And they are this: don’t forget about ME.

Crafty felting photo courtesy of Rachelle Doorley.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Seven. Whoopie!

April 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

016In my online fantasy world, I’d cover everything on this blog—loads of hands-on get-dirty projects, gobs of expeditions to local kid-friendly hangouts, endless recipes involving granola and fruity bits (and heavy cream…), a zillion questions you hadn’t even thought of to ask yet. This is exactly what my friend Sheri Silver does on Donuts, Dresses and Dirt—a blog that is an essential part of my daily intake. Today is my book’s lucky day. It’s visiting Sheri’s blog—gobbling up her handmade heart-shaped APPLE PEEL “TWIGS” and HEART-SHAPED WHOOOPIE PIES and visiting THIS place and THIS place! And, guess what? She is giving away TWO of my BOOKS! Just stop by right HERE and check in!

Mouthwatering Whoopie Pie photo courtesy of Sheri Silver.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Six. Mmmmmm.

April 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

2305960907_9fdecefd86It is my firm belief that routine helpings of reasonably decadent desserts are the key to general success in life. In fact, it’s not my best quality, but I have a hard time getting through my day morning writing and sketching without some sort of sweet something vanishing in front of me. Today and tomorrow are no different for me. And, as I am not especially fond of spending excessive amounts of time in my kitchen (as my kitchen has just one single drawer in it), I am so very lucky to have met a greathearted local friend like Sara Schneider. Not only is she wise and resourceful beyond her years, she is also an extraordinary baker. If I were to sum up her baking talents (which I won’t because it would take too long, and I’m likely to drool), my synopsis would include a series of mouthwatering photographs such as THIS, THIS and THIS, with sugary, creamy, buttery thoughts of uber-moist goodness topped with pure artistry and slivers and splashes of colors—all remarkably captured by her oh-so-talented photographer husband Doug Schneider. Sara is pure amazingness. And, in just a few days, MY BOOK will visit with her. (Have fun, Book! And don’t forget where you came from!) Why am I telling you this? So I can lure you into to checking out the Sara Bakes Cakes scene right HERE and you can drool from now until Thursday. Update: HERE is the One and Only Sara making cackleberry sprouts with her kids–a project right from Chapter 5.

Have fun! And, don’t forget: there’s still time to enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY right HERE!

Mouthwatering cupcake photo courtesy of Doug Schneider Photography.

Bloggy Book Tour: Day Five

April 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Well, booky things are in full swing! Today my book has trekked all the way down to Rebecca Sower’s hobby farm in rural Tennessee. Check out Rebecca’s take on the book right HERE (plus the most adorable photos of her newly-hatched downy spring chicks), and visit her awe-inspiring Etsy shop as well—chock full of handmade and vintage goodness—funky journals, artisan aprons, jewelry, collage paintings—you will find it all HERE.

Since the book launch last Tuesday, I’ve had lively events HERE and HERE. And, somehow I finagled sharing the stage yesterday with noteworthy authors Jenny Rosenstrach, Karen Engelmann, Veera Hiranandani, and Patty Chang Anker right HERE before an enthusiastic sold-out crowd. Phew! This week, I’ll be making a very important pit stop HERE to make SEEDBOMBS with a handful of very important smallish friends of mine, and then will be heading to Pennsylvania for a BIG BOOK BASH. If you’re in the New Hope, PA area this weekend, stop by and see me! I’d love to share my book excitement with you in person. I’ll be at Artisans Gallery in Peddler’s Village on Sunday from 1 to 3. Not only will I sign books while there, but I (with my small nimble assistants) will magically transform wool sweaters into funky felted flowers right before your eyes. Viola! Hope to see you there!

Oh, geez! I almost forgot to tell you! A new artist friend of mine is hosting a GIVEAWAY of my book on her beautiful blog. There is still time to enter, but you better hurry up! Visit it HERE.

And, you can double your book-winning chances right HERE.

Cute chick image above courtesy of Rebecca Sower.