I Still Believe in New Year’s Resolutions.

The wild turkeys in Old Brick’s field, adjacent to the Parris House. They have no need of New Year’s resolutions. They just live their lives. Alas, I still need resolutions.

I still believe in New Year’s resolutions. My rational mind isn’t a fan, but my heart is still in them. I think it’s the new beginnings aspect. I love change. It’s why I love the seasons in Maine and even the crazy swings within the seasons. For example, as I write this, it is 14 degrees F with a wind chill of 3 in Paris, Maine. Saturday is forecast to hit 51 degrees and Sunday we may have an ice storm. While I am not happy that some of the weirder weather is likely the result of man-made climate change, the variability that Maine weather has always dished out is something that has been cherished (or not…) by generations of Mainers.

It’s not just the need for change that drives my advocacy for New Year’s resolutions though. It’s more about making promises to myself and others and committing to keeping them. I do this with inconsistent success, but the successes that I have in keeping some of them make my life better and often make life better for the people who have to interact with me.

What better time to seek change than at the turn of a decade? I know, I know…some would argue that the decade does not turn until January of 2021. I’m not on that train. I’m writing 2020 on my checks now so it’s a new decade. Case closed.

I do a major reassessment and make adjustments three times a year: on my birthday in June, on the first day of fall, and in January. These are not evenly spaced and I claim no special logic here. It’s just how I do it. This year’s January reassessment is somewhat major. I feel a big shift coming in 2020, not only for me but for the world. I sense a real fatigue among those around me. I saw a lot of social media posts about 2019 that amounted to, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” Part of my reassessment this year is based on the following question: “What can I do to position myself, my life, and my business better to assist in helping out where I can in this new decade?”

It turns out, the corny old adage is true: you can’t offer water to others from an empty cup. Or to put it really bluntly, if you don’t have your own shit together, there’s no helping anyone else, at least not in the most significant ways possible.

With that in mind, here are my resolutions for 2020. They are not particularly unique. These involve the fundamentals of life, which are not unique. They are universal. If you don’t have your mental and physical health, your finances, and your creative life where you want them, there’s room to grow. I am not happy to admit that at almost 55 years old, I still need to work quite a bit on all of these fundamentals, but here we are, and while these are my resolutions I am hoping that what I have written may help some of you with yours.

The rocks at White Point Beach on a recent trip to Nova Scotia.

Travel more/see more people I care about.

This holiday season I was so fortunate to have almost all of my people home for a visit. My four sons, my niece, and all of their significant others except one were home. We are able to get everyone together about every two years. I am now coping with the post-holiday amplification of missing them, so this year I’ll be planning trips to visit them. That will mean trips to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, Connecticut, Texas, Massachusetts, and possibly North Carolina.

Dog-friendly Airbnbs are our go-to accommodations and, as Airbnb Superhosts ourselves, we enjoy meeting other hosts. We have often put off travel because it was “too expensive” or “we can’t get the time off,” but this year we are making a major effort to make it work.

Detail of a hooked pillow for Beekman 1802.

Hook/make art/be creative every day.

I’ve told the story of Deanne Fitzpatrick admonishing me to hook every day several times before on the blog and in our social media. I have never forgotten it. I have also never heeded her sage advice, although I’ve recommended it to others. Until now.

The retail side of Parris House Wool Works has been all consuming for a long time. It’s a major income stream for the overall venture and it has taken a herculean effort to get it where it is now, which is not even a fraction of where it needs to be. Ergo, I barely hook anymore, and most of my hooking is – you guessed it – for retail clients either through my own shop or Beekman 1802. What has changed significantly is that I now have considerable help with the retail end of things and I need to channel time freed by that in to actually making.

In 2020, the daily hooking commences for real. This has been my first resolution in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and it hasn’t happened. It gets real now because, honestly, I’m getting kind of angry at myself and the world about not doing it. Hooking every day will get me through my backlog of customer projects and then I can get started on some heart and art projects. Some of these pieces may be challenging to look at or process. Look for those after March (yes, I’m that backlogged on customer pieces).

My first ever book publishing agreement for Seasons at the Parris House, which will be available for purchase in June of this year.

Write every day.

Today I’m writing this blog, tomorrow it will be the weekly newsletter, next week it will be some finishing elements of my book and also some work I’m doing as a contributor to another artist’s book. I also have an open invitation to write for a couple of creative publications, including one that has also asked me to pitch a book. If the daily writing isn’t any of those things, it’s going to be the morning pages as prescribed by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way or I might…I just might…start on another book idea I have. I should probably check in with my current editor on that one, right?

Writing daily can also include sending letters to the editors of newspapers, emails to our Senators and Representatives, or a handwritten note to someone we’ve lost contact with. Writing daily can be an act of resistance in a world that needs to hear the cumulative voices of dissent every single day.

But writing daily, even if it’s in a journal that no one else will ever see, keeps us in contact with our language and with ourselves. It helps refine and focus our thoughts and, in the most fundamental way, it makes us better writers through the timeless principle of practice. Practice will never make perfect, but it sure does make whatever we’re doing better.

There is no better place for meditation, prayer, or sheer awe than the deck of a Maine schooner on Penobscot Bay.

Develop a more consistent meditation/prayer practice.

I recently loaded the Headspace app on my phone and it’s highly effective. I can understand why so many people are using this app and are willing to pay for it. I have been using it almost every morning for three months and I have noticed a change in my ability to focus, stay calm, and maintain important boundaries. I also am more aware of when I am not able to do those things and can more quickly recover from a lapse.

The app is by far not my first exposure to a meditation or prayer practice; it simply makes it more of a habit. I have a long history of reading about/studying/attempting the practice of meditation. Some authors I’ve found helpful as a modern, western person are Thich Nhat Hanh, Howard Kabat-Zinn, and, Dan Harris. Dan Harris is a modern meditator, self described “fidgety skeptic,” and also has a fantastic podcast called 10% Happier. It’s all well and fine to educate oneself about the scientifically supported benefits of meditation, but if you’re not doing it, it’s not that helpful. So recently, I starting making myself actually do it.

The nice thing about meditation is that it’s a practice open to athiests and “believers” alike. I am not an atheist, although I have absolutely no issue with those who are and deeply respect their reasons for being so. My own belief structure is complicated and humble enough that I totally get other humans being atheists.

My own faith tradition is Roman Catholicism and I have found, in the past year, the only Jesuit parish in Maine down in Portland. Part of my resolution that falls under meditation/prayer is to attend Mass more often at this parish and possibly become more involved in the substantial community outreach they provide. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, created a meditative practice known as the Daily Examen which I am also working on incorporating in to my every day life. I have always regarded the Jesuits as the hippy radicals of the Catholic world, often leading progressive change and causes within the faith and forsaking the pressures of local and national politics for the more revolutionary, and sometimes uncomfortable, message of their Christ. I hope to include some ancient Christian iconography in some of my art pieces in the future.

Eat good food.

Take care of my health.

Some of you may recall that in November I sustained a debilitating back injury packing out the Paris Hill Hook In. I was almost completely incapacitated. My very wise doctor said, “You’re going to need strength training and yoga from here on out if you want to try to prevent this in the future.” So, after a couple of months of healing and a lot of holiday over-indulgence, I have begun.

My current practice includes strength training at the gym 3 times a week, walking/running 4 times a week, and yoga once a week. This is more than do-able for me. In fact, in a past life, decades ago when I lived in New Jersey, I went to the gym six days a week and had a personal trainer certification. I was pretty strong and never had to worry about whether or not my pants were going to fit or I was going to incapacitate myself with a random injury doing normal tasks. It would be easy to say that I’m too busy to do this, until I have a flashback of being completely bed-bound in November by an injury caused by not doing these things.

Hand in hand with this is the truth that eating junk doesn’t fuel a good workout or good overall health. So, I’m paying even closer attention to what I eat and how it benefits, or doesn’t, my health goals. I have been using the Weight Watchers app as a tool for this for nearly two years and it is highly effective, but there is also a food tracking component to my Fitbit app that’s pretty good as well. I have observed, in myself and others, that most modern Americans have no idea how many excess and/or empty calories they are consuming in a day, and most have no idea what a healthy portion size looks like. I was among these and food tracking has helped me to gain that knowledge.

It’s easy to make up excuses. So very easy. I have a great imagination so I’m the best excuse maker ever on this stuff. But even without a great imagination. the reality is that I have Hashimoto’s disease and a cardiac nerve path defect that manifests in ways that sometimes end with electrocardioversion. (Good times in the ER, those.) I also have an ankle and a shoulder that are cranky and weak from previous injuries and a family history of heart disease and diabetes. I know that every possible physical vulnerability I have is made worse by inaction, so in 2020, I’m taking better action. And before anyone calls out my age, age is no excuse. I met a woman several years older than I am in the gym yesterday who is built like iron and told me she runs up and down Paris Hill at 4:30 in the morning. That’s a 7 mile round trip with insane inclines. How does she do it? She put the work in. I have to also.

Caveat: some people have legit physical or mental health differences that might prevent a resolution like this one from being realistic. Most of us don’t. We just have excuses.

Make your own unwrapped/no packaging products.

Reduce waste at the Parris House.

I was given a great zero waste living book for Christmas this year, Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. I’ll be mentioning it and showing it off in the newsletter this week. (To subscribe, click here.) I had put it on my holiday wish list because I have been increasingly interested in zero waste living, which I regard as a bit of a misnomer. I’m not sure anyone can get to zero waste living, but I think many of us can get to low waste living.

Here at the Parris House we have already made some inroads on this in previous years. I have long purchased used clothing at thrift shops, sometimes with the tags still on, and I generally only have clothing I wear on a regular basis. We compost food scraps and also give them to our chickens. We grow a lot of our own vegetables in the growing season, which cuts down on the considerable packaging grocery store foods come with. We often make our own soap and laundry detergent and try to buy some things in bulk to reduce individual packaging impacts. We are slowly but surely getting the food storage here to all reusable glass containers instead of plastics that wear out and end up in the landfill. And there’s more, but we are not nearly where we need to be.

As a result, those of you who may stay at the Parris House during our upcoming retreats may notice that we do not provide individually wrapped tiny bars of soap or shampoo and lotion in little single-use plastic bottles, but rather provide dispensers in the showers/baths instead. You may notice a stainless steel bowl on the kitchen counter in to which all the food scraps go. You may also notice where we fall short of minimizing waste and we invite you to make suggestions. One place I know we fall short is in our packing and shipping materials and I will be looking at fixing that this year.

Bees know how to get down to the essentials and make sure there’s enough honey to survive.

Take better care of my business/financial life.

Starting and growing a business requires a huge amount of resources. Parris House Wool Works has been bootstrapped, meaning there have been no outside investors or outside capital-bearing angels. There have been no massive loans. There are no get-rich-quick schemes in a business based primarily on a heritage craft. In fact, I am aware of a few out there that have never turned a profit and are run strictly out of love and devotion for our art. I am not in a position to do that. And in case anyone is wondering, there are also no get-rich-quick schemes to be had from those annoying spam calls we get on our phones, no matter how insistent the robo-caller.

In 2020 I will be getting even more serious than ever (which is saying something) about growing this enterprise in to something that can not only properly pay its own bills but have enough left over to do more significant charitable giving. I do not expect the growth I am looking for to occur in 2020, however, my target for some of its financial goals is 2025 with the major groundwork laid this year.

Often we don’t want to look at, talk about, let alone write a blog post about the financial side of what we do, especially when what we do is largely a labor of love as well. But we have to. I believe the more transparent and honest we are about needing to cover our expenses and then some, the more we embolden others to take up important projects too. In doing so, we are saying that yes, you can be successful while being nice, but you may not be successful if you are “nice” in ways that sacrifice your own well being.

When an enterprise starts to take better care of itself financially, it may look like the following: no longer giving away massive amounts of goods and services “to be nice,” pricing products and services with an adequate profit margin on them instead of racing to the bottom to “be competitive,” cutting some products and services completely out of the line or adding new ones, not being willing to take on debt or additional debt on unstable demand for whatever the requested product is, managing inventory in a way that may not satisfy everyone external to the business, not giving away the owner’s time for free, saying “no” in the short term to be able to say “yes” more often in the future, vetting new ideas carefully using measurable standards, and more.

That’s it, but it’s more than enough to work on.

Identifying what isn’t optimal in your life isn’t being negative or “tempting the universe to give you more of the same.” It’s the very foundation of making your life better. That’s why I do these sometimes harsh reassessments several times a year and each time I create a resolution, even if I fulfill it only part way and part of the time, I notice growth for the better in my own life. I have a lot to work on this year. Feel free to share your own hopes, dreams, and resolutions (those things that make hopes and dreams come true) in the comment thread.

Happy new year and happy hooking! – Beth

There’s Still a Short Time to Shop for the Holidays, Etsy Coupon Code!

Happy Holidays!  How is your gift shopping going?  Have you remembered to treat yourself to something nice too?  Here at Parris House Wool Works, we want to help.  First, be aware that between now and December 15th, we are running a coupon code in the Etsy shop.  You can save 15% off any order of $50 or more by simply using coupon code HOLIDAY2017 at check out.

Second, here are some great ideas for gifts, for you and your winter hooking/crafting, or for someone on your gift list.  While these are our top ten recommendations, remember that the coupon code is good for anything in the Etsy shop.

So let’s do our top ten!  Just click on the item title to find it in the Etsy shop.   Please note where quantities and time frames are limited.

Holiday Wool Fat Quarter Quad

Holiday colors, 1 fat quarter each, hand dyed, cut or uncut – your choice.  This is a great selection of wool to hook last minute ornaments for teachers’ gifts, hostess/party gifts, or just for your own tree.

Complete Beginner Rug Hooking Kit

We have two versions of this, so make sure you check the shop for both.  One comes with our 10 x 12 box frame and the other with our 12 x 12 folding frame.  Fantastic and economical way to get someone you love in to the craft you love.  You can also customize it with a different pattern if you so choose.  Limited number available.

 

Americana Baker’s Dozen Stash

Only one available! This stash is a great way to start off a new hooker or augment the stash of someone experienced!  Also works well for applique, felting, stitching, or other crafts.

10″ x 12″ Rug Hooking Lap Frame

This is a favorite frame of mine.  Almost everything I hook that is not really large is hooked on this frame.  I love its simplicity and portability.  This frame is hand crafted by Bear Pond Wood Works in Hartford, Maine in solid, quality, no-knot pine.  A great beginner frame, but also a great frame period.  Limited number available.

12″ x 12″ Folding Lap Frame

Another solid and super popular pine frame by Bear Pond Wood Works, this one folds nicely when you take the base off to fit in to your hooking tote.  Limited number available.

Hand Dyed Tie Dye Wool Scarf

Only one available! Need something for someone who doesn’t hook or craft but loves wool?  Hand dyed tie dye scarf with hand fringed ends.  Toasty warm and a good length to tuck in to a coat collar.

Reach for the Stars Snowman Pillow Kit

Great winter project!  Reach for the Stars snowman pillow (or wall hanging, table mat) with all the wool you need to hook it!

Gossip in the Pines Pattern

Gossiping cardinals.  We see them every winter.  Who says females are the biggest gossips?  These two gentlemen chatter away all winter long.

7″ Snowman Ornament Kit

Need to hook something quick?  This kit is for you.  Cute snowman can be easily finished by using fabric bonding material for the back.  No sewing required.

Antique Hair Receiver

Only one available!  I pick our local antique shops for the prettiest, most unusual Maine items I can find.  I love this antique hair receiver.  Originally used to hold hair from combs and brushes, this could also be a jewelry holder, contain small silk flowers, or whatever your imagination comes up with.

So those are our top ten recommendations, but again, HOLIDAY2017 gets you 15% off any order of $50 or more on ANYTHING in the Etsy shop.

Please note that this sale runs through Friday, December 15th.   Some of these items need to be made and/or assembled so anything ordered after the 15th is not guaranteed for holiday delivery.  If we have an unexpected number of orders on the frames, it may also be difficult to have those in time for holiday delivery as well, so if a frame or a kit that includes a frame looks like the thing for you, please order right away.   First come, first served.

Thank you and I hope you have a holiday filled with happy memories and  happy hooking!  – Beth

 

A Gray Gardening Day in May plus the Parris House’s Honey Lemon (or Lime) Mint Tea Recipe

Today I put in most of the plantings for the Parris House vegetable and herb garden.  As some of you who follow me on social media may recall, around the time I was planning to start my seedlings, our local water utility burst an underground water main directly in front of our home, sending thousands of gallons of water in to the basement.  Unfortunately, this is the area where I usually have seedlings set up with grow lights.  The basement was a complete wreck and the cleanup and recovery have taken a couple of months, so…this year…no seedlings.

Fortunately, Smedberg’s Crystal Spring Farm in Oxford, Maine always has a huge variety of vegetable and herb seedlings, so this year, that was my solution.  I am usually picky with my seeds, selecting a lot of heirloom varieties, but this year growing my own plants was off the table and, having used Smedberg’s plants at times in the past, I know I will not be disappointed with my harvest.

I got the following in to the garden this morning, even though the weather on this Memorial Day is gray, cold, and frankly miserable:  tomatoes (three varieties), bell peppers, banana peppers, swiss chard, kale, eggplant, slicing cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, lavender, basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.  I have a good sized spearmint plant potted and over near the kitchen door, because let’s face it, that’s an invasive and if I put that in my raised beds it will party on until it’s filled them up.  Also, our rhubarb has come up once again and it’s really time (maybe past time) to cut some of that and make something delicious with it.  There’s still work to do, even though it’s getting so late in the season.  I still plan to add some dye/flowering plants to the herb bed and also to the container area near the house.  My husband put up the electric fence for me again this year and our stalwart plastic owl is standing guard as he has for many years (successfully) now.   In looking over my plant selections I’m pretty sure my Italian DNA is showing.

Here are a few pics of the fledgling vegetable garden.  I assure you that in a month or so, this is going to be lush and just starting to put off some food, that is IF it’s ever warm and sunny for more than a day or two at a time this spring.  I’m starting to wonder.

I really couldn’t resist taking some of the spearmint, even though the plant is relatively young and small.  I love mint in my iced tea and I make my iced tea a particular way.   The recipe is right here for you, if you’d like to give it a try.  Let me put forth the following caveats.  I do not like my iced tea very sweet (sorrynotsorry to those of you in the South; I know this is considered an abomination down there).  In fact, the only reason this recipe has honey in it is because a) I like the flavor of honey and b) I have bees and am about to extract my first load of honey (it will be called Tovookan’s honey and will be for sale – watch for it) in the next few weeks.  It wouldn’t be ok for me to not use it in my tea, after all.  Since I don’t have my own yet, the honey shown in the pic is from Beekman 1802, and it’s delicious.  What I do not like is for sweetness to obliterate the flavor of a really good tea.  Second caveat is that I like my tea like I like my coffee – so strong you could stand a spoon in it.  Please adjust for your own taste.   Third caveat (hello, Canadian friends!) – I am using King Cole tea which my son James dutifully picks up every time he goes to visit his girlfriend in Nova Scotia.  This is a very popular Canadian tea that has ruined me for most other everyday teas, but if you can not procure this, just use your favorite.  Each King Cole tea bag is made to brew 2 cups, so you just have to double how many you use in your recipe.

1 half gallon Ball canning jar or a half gallon container of your choice  (but let’s face it, the canning jars are really cute)

3 King Cole Orange Pekoe tea bags OR 6 tea bags of your favorite tea

2-3 tablespoons honey or to taste (go ahead Southern friends, pour that jar upside down and count to 100)

1 lemon, cut in to quarters (lime is also tasty)

1 sprig of fresh mint, cut in to slices and put in to a tea ball

About 4 trays of ice (the Parris House icemaker broke about ten years ago, the repair guy said $600 to fix it – we use trays)

Fill your kettle with hot water and start it on the stove (or plug it in).  Meanwhile, put the honey in the bottom of the jar, and cut up your lemon and mint.  I don’t worry about the lemon seeds, but if they’ll bother you, remove them.  I put my mint pieces in to a tea ball so that I don’t have to fish them out of the tea later.  This may compromise the diffusion a little bit and you can certainly just put them in whole.  However, do NOT put them in the jar yet.

Once your water is boiling, fill the Ball jar to about a third with it and then stir the honey from the bottom until dissolved.  Add your tea bags, fill to about half with the hot water, and steep with the lid on for as long as you like.  As I said, I like my tea super strong, so I let it get plenty dark, about 10 or 15 minutes (ok, sometimes longer – yes, I know it can get bitter – yes, I kinda like that).  When steeped to your liking, remove the tea bags and add the ice.  Notice that I have not yet added the lemon and mint.  This is because I do not like the lemon to take on that “cooked” flavor that can happen when you’ve put the lemons in while the water is still too hot.  I also think it alters the freshness of the mint.  So I wait until most of the ice has melted and cooled and diluted the tea.

Once the water is not hot enough to alter the freshness of the lemon and mint (about room temperature), add those to the jar.  Let these flavor the tea for at least an hour or two.  I recommend getting them both out of the jar the same day, though, because I think the lemon starts to take on an odd flavor if left in the jar too long.   I store the tea in the fridge so that the flavors stay fresh and so that when I use it it’s very cold.

Unfortunately, today is not an iced tea day.  Today is a hot tea, hot coffee, or possibly even hot chocolate day here in Maine, replete with wood stove burning to knock the chill off.  But…I have to think iced tea days are coming, so try making it this way and let me know what you think.

Happy Memorial Day and happy hooking.

P.S.  I have not failed to observe Memorial Day; in fact, I am always deeply reverent of its origins and meaning.  If you follow me on Facebook you will have already seen a Memorial Day post I wrote for the Paris Hill Historical Society today.  Take a look by clicking HERE.  Thank you!

Blank Linen

As I’ve been on Facebook and other social media the past week I’ve seen lots of jokes and memes about not knowing what day it is during holiday vacation.  While I can not abandon business entirely during the holiday season, there were times in the past week when I too noticed a surreal disconnection from every day life.  I’ve had family visiting, and the Parris House is the locus of much of the extended family holiday celebration as well, which means, well…a lot of work along with all the joy and never quite enough time in the day.

Today we are “de-decorating,” as my husband puts it.  The fog of festivity is clearing and we have a brand new year.  There are so many metaphors for the new year:  clean slate, blank page, and more.  As a hooker, I’m thinking of it as a bolt of blank linen.  When one of these bolts lands “thud” on my doorstep I’m never quite sure what it will turn in to.  A combination of planning and serendipity conspire to use that linen up and the next thing I know I’m ordering another.

This year I’m leaning hard toward the planning side of things with an open mind and heart for serendipity as well.  Some of the most important opportunities I’ve had in my work and in my life have come unexpectedly, so while I can not rule out the unexpected, I’m also doubling down on the planning portion for the year.  Customers and friends, online and in 3D, of Parris House Wool Works may notice some changes.  My word for the year is “bold,” and my plan is to move my skill set and my venture to a new level in 2017.   I will be learning how to do new things, offering new products and classes, and starting some large projects.  I also plan to support one major non-profit effort, which I will announce later this month.  It is more important to me than ever that I give back somehow to make the lives of others better, even if I can only do it in some small way.

This afternoon I read a discouraging post about an acquaintance’s fiber shop in upstate NY.  Her sign, and those of other business owners in the area, had been vandalized with hate symbols.  It’s no secret that these types of stories were much too prevalent in 2016, and here was another – involving someone I know and whose products I use – in the opening days of 2017.   The people of her town got together, however, and started cleaning the vandalized surfaces almost immediately.  Her sign was back to normal very soon after the attack.   The cleaning up of the town was an act by the townspeople of defiance, perseverance, and love in the face of defacement and hate.  There’s a lesson here for us in the way we look at 2017, this new year, and that is:

We have a new year, a clean slate, a blank linen.   We can persevere in love for what is right and in defiance of what is wrong until we achieve our goals and set new ones, even when we experience setbacks beyond our control.  In the achievement of a better 2017, there will always be people to help us along the way.  As Fred Rogers (my childhood hero) famously quoted his mother as saying, “Always look for the helpers.”

What are your plans for this year?  What will you use your “blank linen” for?  What achievements in 2016 are now stepping stones for an even better 2017?  I invite you to share your plans, dreams, and goals for 2017 on our social media pages and your own using the hashtag #blanklinen.  They do not have to be hooking related, or fiber art related; there is no limiting parameter for your posts and shares.   You have already achieved a great deal in your life.  What’s next?  None of us came this far to only come this far.

Have a wonderful 2017 and I hope to see #blanklinen peppering social media as you share your dearest dreams and achievements.

Happy hooking – Beth

 

 

 

Jen's Independence Day Apple Pie Recipe!

ApplePie

What goes together better than hooking and homemade apple pie!?  Here’s Jen’s recipe…

Put on your pink 1950s apron and get ready to impress your friends! It’s homemade apple pie.

Apple Pie!

For the crust:

Make ahead of time and let it cool in the refrigerator.

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon of kosher salt

¾ teaspoon of sugar

½ cup of chilled butter, cut into pieces

½ cup of chilled shortening, cut in to pieces

Place the first three ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a bowl.

Working quickly, stir mixture with a fork, gradually adding ¼ to ½ cup ofvery cold water until dough begins to form. Roll into a ball and divide into two equal portions and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least one hour.

6 cups (1 ½ lbs) of peeled, sliced apples (I use Golden Delicious)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

½ cup of sugar

½ firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

½ ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons of butter or margarine (Come on, you know you want to use real butter.)

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (I use it sparingly)

2 teaspoons of sugar

1/8 of a teaspoon ground cinnamon

On a lightly floured surface, roll ½ of your pastry to about 1/8 inch thick and place into a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine apple and lemon juice. Ina seperate bowl, add 1/2 cup of sugar and next four ingredients. Mix well. Pour over apples mixture, tossing gently. Spoon the mixture evenly in pastry shell and dot with butter.

Roll the remaining pastry shell to 1/8 inch thickness and transfer to the top of pie. Form a pretty crust by pinching the edges or if you have extra pastry, use a cookie cutter to form maple leaves or other cute design and add to top of pie for decoration. Cut slits in the top of crust. Brush with beaten egg (I never use the whole egg yolk as I think it tends to brown too much).

Combine:

2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the pie. Cover the edges of crust with foil to prevent too much browning and place in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 50 more minutes. I take off the foil during the last ten or fifteen minutes to brown the edges.

Don’t leave in the windowsill to cool as some pesky neighborhood child might run off with it. Sit down and enjoy with a large glass of milk!

Happy baking and happy hooking!!!

What’s In Store for 2015? Maine Edition

designed by Freepik.com
designed by Freepik.com

It’s been an exciting 2014 for Parris House Wool Works.  2014 was the first full year that the Maine studio was open.  This year we firmly established the best.hooking.group.ever meeting every Tuesday in Maine, we were welcomed in to the Beekman 1802 Rural Artist Collective (thank you Josh, Brent, staff, and every living thing at Beekman 1802!), we were finalists in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, and we had an even better 2nd Annual Paris Hill Hook-In.  We redesigned our website, made many new friends and customers, and introduced our soap line and other new products and patterns.   I continued my participation in The Keeping Room’s fall Harvest Hook-In and Hooked Treasures’ Spring Fling Hook-In (thank you Toni and Cherylyn!).  Thanks to Cathy at the Oxford Mill End Store I taught quite a crop of beginning hooking students there this year.  I also got to teach a wonderful group at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village last summer (thank you, Michael and everyone at SDL!) and participate in Open Farm Day there.

So what’s on tap for 2015?  Well, here are just a few of the ideas I plan to bring to fruition.

MORE CLASSES

I’ve been asked to teach a beginner dye class for a very long time now.  Our first beginner dye class in Maine will be held in January, with beginner dye classes held quarterly thereafter in April, August, and November.  I will also start beginning hooking workshops quarterly, in February, May, September, and December.  In addition, I will try to schedule more classes by other teachers, including Connie Fletcher for her popular Tips & Tricks class again if possible.   Watch the “Classes & Workshops” section of the website for specific date announcements!

The incomparable Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Rug Hooking teaching her Tips & Tricks class to the Maine studio hookers.

MORE HAND DYES

Our hand dyed wool is becoming more and more popular and in demand.  I will be setting aside more time to bring you beautiful hand dyes.  I will continue custom dyeing services as possible, but hope to increase the variety of hand dyes on the shelf so as to bring more options in any case.

PARRIS HOUSE PUBLICATIONS

There’s been banter in the Maine studio about creating a cook book based on the recipes and hooking experiences of our Tuesday group.  I would like to make that a reality this year, as well as a Parris House Wool Works calendar (obviously a priority given that it’s almost January!), and possibly hooking themed note cards and other paper goods to celebrate our love of the craft.  And, of course, our quarterly email newsletter will continue.  Stay tuned for news on this.

Vegetable latke recipe made by Beth, but given to her by Maine hooker Libby Armstrong.

EXPANSION OF OUR SOAP AND SPA PRODUCT LINE

We are working on new all natural scents all the time.  In Maine, our newest soap scent is Winter Peppermint Potpourri.  These new soaps will be available in January at the Maine studio, at the McLaughlin Garden gift shop, and in our Etsy shop.  Also in development are lotions, cream perfumes, and candles.  We hope to eventually offer “spa sets” for gift giving or just for personal pampering.

SEPTEMBER MAINE LAKE HOOKING & HIKING RETREAT

This is the year we do this thing, the Hooking & Hiking Weekend Retreat at Sunset Haven on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, Maine.  As a Registered Maine Guide, I have been looking forward to combining two of my passions, hiking and hooking, and sharing them with hookers at a special, restful retreat.  We’ll keep the hiking at a level everyone can do (or if that part of the program is not your thing, you can hang out at Sunset Haven on the lakeside deck with a glass of wine) and bring the warm and relaxed ambiance we have at Tuesday group in Paris to the lake.  Space will be limited.  I will have detailed information and registration materials up on our web page and social media by March, so keep an eye out.

MAINE STUDIO HIT AND MISS RUG FOR CHARITY

Again, acting on an idea that came from the Tuesday hooking group, I will provide a large hit and miss pattern on a single piece of linen for our hookers – or anyone who comes in to the studio – to work on at their leisure.  We still have a BIG basket of random worms bequeathed to us by Artful Hands, and we ALL have our not-so-secret stashes of leftover worms from other projects.  Two of our Tuesday group hookers have been affected by kidney disease, and so, when the rug is finished we will raffle it off to benefit a charity relating to that disease in 2015.

Rug by kidney transplant recipient and Maine studio hooker Irene Adams as a gift to her transplant team this year.

TEACHING AT SQUAM

Honestly, I am so bowled over by the opportunity to teach at the Squam Art Workshops in June, I don’t even know what to say.  Thank you, thank you to director Elizabeth Duvivier for this opportunity, and dear friend and poet Sarah Sousa who brought my art to Elizabeth’s attention.   Join us for a wonderful hooking workshop!

Those are just some of the highlights, but also on the goal sheet are:

  • the addition of many new patterns to our offerings, including more abstracts and contemporaries to go with our traditional fare
  • get a pattern featured in Rug Hooking Magazine!
  • be a featured maker on the Etsy blog!
  • enter the Martha Stewart American Made contest again
  • enter rugs for exhibit to Hooked in the Mountains
  • our 3rd Annual Paris Hill Hook-In – be there!
  • teaching again at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
  • possibly do a hooking retreat at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs, NY – TBD
  • attend the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival as vendors this year
  • the development of a line of both more hooked and non-hooked scented and warming pillows for the Etsy shop

Running a small business that is your dream and passion can be serendipitous, so in spite of all the careful planning and goal setting, I know there will be surprises along the way.  Goals set may happen slightly differently, and opportunities I can not dream of at this moment may present themselves.  In any case, none of this would be possible without you, dear reader, and so I thank you and wish you the happiest and most prosperous of New Years!  Happy New Year and happy hooking!  – Beth

A Special Holiday Thank You to All of Our Friends and Customers

New clock in the Maine studio made by Ron Adams of Bear Pond Wood Works (maker of our popular frames) and his wife, beloved member of our Tuesday hooking group, Irene Adams.

As the holiday season is upon us and the year draws to an end, we would like to thank our friends, customers, faithful Tuesday group in Maine, suppliers, retailers, and business associates for all of the support and enthusiasm that has contributed so importantly to the growth of our enterprise in 2014.  It is with extremely grateful hearts that we thank ALL of you and sincerely wish you love, peace, joy, and especially, happy hooking, this season and all through the coming year.

Our best wishes always – Beth & Jen

Holiday Shop Announcements: Shipping and Studio Schedules

Christmas is ten days away!  Here is some important information regarding the Etsy shop and the Maine studio.

Shipping deadline for Christmas delivery:  For items that are in stock, I believe we can ship through Thursday, December 18th, and still be pretty sure of delivery by Christmas.   It is highly recommended, therefore, that if there is something in our shop you would like by Christmas, ordering in the next few days is your best bet.

On the Bear Pond Wood Works frames, we currently have in stock unspoken for:  2 small and 2 large.  While these are continually being made, these four currently in stock could be delivered by Christmas if ordered before the 18th.  They are also available for pick up in our Maine studio.

Anything custom made or sold as a finished, hooked piece can probably not make it in time for Christmas at this point.

Studio Hours in Maine:  The Maine studio will be closed from December 21st through January 4th for the holidays and inventory.  (Yes, we have to count inventory here now.  Blarg.)  If you have a “hooking emergency” and need supplies during this time, please call Beth at 207-890-8490 for an appointment.

Studio Hours in Tennessee:  Check with Jen at the Tennessee studio at 615-339-6496 should you need local assistance.  

Happy Holidays and Happy Hooking!

We Have Been Featured in In Season Magazine – Take a Peek!

Photograph is the property of Jennifer Burcke and In Season Magazine.
Photograph is the property of Jennifer Burcke and In Season Magazine.

We’d like to thank Jennifer Burcke of both 1840 Farm and In Season Magazine for featuring our 100% natural, hand crafted soaps in the stocking stuffer section of her holiday gift guide!

In Season Magazine is a beautiful lifestyle magazine that you can subscribe to on-line covering food, recreation, product reviews, natural and healthy living, homesteading skills, and more.  The photographs are lovely and inspiring, and the accompanying articles are interesting and helpful.

So, take a look!  Supplies of our soap are currently limited because of the nature of our small batch production method, however, we are always making more, and will be increasing the number of batches in 2015.  If you’d like some of what we have on hand, in a wonderful variety of natural scents, please follow the link in the In Season article to our Etsy shop and order before Christmas!

The First of Our Hooked Pillows are Up at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile!

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Polka Spot hand hooked pillow. 15″ x 15″ Available exclusively at Beekman 1802.

We’ve been working on this collaboration for the better part of this year, and today is the day the first hooked pillows in our line for Beekman 1802 have gone live on the on-line Beekman 1802 Mercantile.  We are so excited to be part of their Rural Artisans Collective!

We hope you’ll shop the Mercantile, not only for our pretty pillows, but for all of the other wonderful artisanal products that Josh & Brent curate for the shop.  Beekman 1802 is a company with a strong ethical conscience, doing well by doing good.  In other words, a company we can be proud to work with.

You can see our pillows in the Home Accessories section of the shop, or also sort on Pillows.  If it’s hooked, we made it exclusively for Beekman 1802!

There will be additional hooked pillows going up this year, including more scented and warming pillows made with buckwheat and essential oils.

Happy shopping and happy hooking!  – Beth

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