Still Learning

One of the greatest joys of my life is being a Granny to two little boys. Another great joy is watching my daughter and son in law parent them with such care. In particular, they teach the older one patience with his brother and with himself by using the phrase: “He’s/you’re still learning.” I love that so much and I find that here and now in my 60’s, I am also still learning.

The pandemic really did a number on my focus and affected my reading and my sewing. Whereas prior to 2020, I would fly through books and sewing projects, sewing a garment a week and reading 100 books in a year without even thinking about it, the heaviness of the last three years and my work as a healthcare worker really set me back and affected my focus.

Another wonderful phrase I have learned from my grandchild’s school: the children have two “grades” M and P: Mastered and Practicing. And sometimes, something they have mastered becomes something they are practicing, because life is like that. And so this year, my goal has been to work towards regaining my focus through practice. To help me regain my reading attention span, I have been working my way through some classics. To regain my sewing focus, I made a goal for Me Made May to just sew. I am practicing things I previously had mastered, and that is OK.

Something that really helped me get back into sewing this past month was to take my sewing machine along when I went away for a quiet weekend by myself at the end of April. I planned it because the noise of my life had become incessant. My work in a busy medical practice means that I am pinged and beeped and alerted all day long. My very full life as a mom, stepmom, granny and wife mean that in addition to my patients, I have many family members I regularly connect with. I really love the connection but this Spring I was craving quiet so I decided to take a weekend away, really away: no computer with me, limited phone usage, I didn’t even tell anyone where I was going. It was truly time for me. I planned to read and write and spend time outside. And then, the day before I left, I heard that the forecast was for rain every single day. So I packed some sewing projects and my sewing machine.

On my way to my secret destination, I caught up on podcasts and happened to listen to this episode of the Love to Sew podcast. I actually found it to be very inspiring and although I had brought along a new pattern that I was excited to make and fabric for that new pattern, I also had some partially sewn garments with me as well and I decided to try to make some progress.

My primary goal for my weekend was to be in the moment so I decided not to take any pictures so I wouldn’t be temped to pick up my phone but I did take these two, just to document my re-entry into sewing. This is a pair of Luna pants that I cut out a year ago thinking I needed to sew something fun. I had two meters of this beautiful blue block print from Blackbird Fabrics which was just enough for the four main pieces but not enough for the pockets. I had finally, this spring, cut the pockets out of the the leftover yellow block print from my Ruby shirt, and I had brought all of the cut pieces with me. When I bring my sewing machine along on vacation, I also bring this Quilter’s ironing mat that works great on top of a table, or in this case, the kitchen counter. Ironically, the week after I got back. Love to Sew did a podcast about sewing vacations! This is my tip-so much easier to pack than an ironing board.

I didn’t actually finish anything during my weekend away but I made a lot of progress on this project and on some Lander pants and shorts which I had started 2 years and 9 months ago, respectively. I had remembered almost everything, but realized when I started sewing, that I had forgotten to bring the Lander instructions. I have sewn many pairs but I still needed the instructions to refer to and I had specifically left my computer at home, but I thought to email True Bias and they graciously emailed the instructions, saving the day.

I didn’t finish the Landers either, but I made progress. And so that was my plan for Me Made May. To just find time to sew and see where I got with my projects.

Well, it is May 29th, and I have finished 9 projects, so calling this a success.

First, the Luna pants. I ended up having to use a hem facing to get enough length, but they turned out great! Perfect for summer.

Next I finished the Lander shorts. These are sewn in a 12oz Bull denim from Blackbird Fabrics that I bought and used in 2020 to make the Clyde Jumpsuit. I had just enough left over-but had to use hem facings-something I really enjoy doing for the pop of color. It has some stretch and is super comfortable but very heavy to sew with. I broke at least 3 sewing needles attaching the belt loops but worth it. The buttons are from Joanne’s. Worn here with a Made by Rae Jade top. I add elastic just between to two back darts to help the fit. It really works well for me.

Next I altered/finished a True Bias Nikko top that I sewed during the Christmas holidays. I cut and sewed my regular size but had never used the sleeves and it was too tight across the back and the shoulders puckered and I thought all was lost but I took a chance and just cut off the sleeves and used bands to hem the armholes and I love it (worn here with Lander cropped cords I sewed in 2020.)

Next I finished some knit projects I cut out last year: A navy blue Axis Tank and some underwear (Barrie Briefs) sewn in a rib knit from I See Fabric. I was influenced by another sewer to buy these fabrics because I loved the colors and I still love the colors but I really think the fabric is too heavy for underwear but lets just say that if you want to feel really secure, these are for you. I know I will wear them though and it felt good to finish them. I don’t remember if the Axis Tank uses elastic or just bands but I put elastic in the bottom hem and just used bands for the armholes. I have worn it several times and have a couple of others that are cut out and ready to sew. It is great for yoga and hot days and wearing under overalls.

Today I finally finished my stone-colored corduroy Landers and they turned out great. I am thrilled and I want to sew my other two pairs (I bought this corduroy in several colors many years back) for exactly this purpose.

I also finished a navy blue sweater knit Marlo sweater. I used the cropped version but added 2 inches in length-which is my normal long-torso 5’9″ adjustment. I nearly got derailed by this one when I went to iron in the black interfacing and ironed the wrong side, mucking up my iron, but I just grabbed some of the 2 inch wide strip of cotton knit that I was using for the Axis and cut strips the length of the button bands and put it inside the band like a knit sandwich. It seemed to work great. I got the buttons and fabric from Stone Mountain and Daughters. I love their button selection. I bought several last summer because I hope to sew the Evelyn skirt one day. Sweater shown here with the Landers before I added the jeans buttons. My buttonholes were ON POINT! I love when that happens. As I always do, I used hem facings and elastic in the waistband, just between the two back darts.

Last, I sewed up a pair of Arden shorts that I cut out last summer. I had cut out two versions of this pattern and finished the linen-cotton pair last summer (seen here with another Axis tank).

They don’t fit me as well as the Landers or the Made by Rae Rose shorts so I don’t think I will be making them again but they were already cut out and so I decided to finish them. I tried to just enjoy the process of sewing them and ended up deciding to use a contrasting waistband. I still don’t love the fit but they will be fine to pull on over a bathing suit or to wear at the house on hot nights. No regrets that I sewed them up. Sometimes it helps to have low-stakes projects to sew when you are getting back into sewing after a long break.

The other thing I enjoyed this month was rediscovering how many clothes I sewed many years ago and still want to wear and enjoy wearing. Here are a few. None of the denim items are me-made but I decided to not stress about sewing everything. I consider them placeholders for when I have the time and bandwidth to sew similar garments myself but in the meantime, I am grateful to find ready to wear items I can afford and that fit. I probably wore the daisy Marlo more than any other garment this month. I really love it. For more me made may outfits and details on these garments, pop over to Nursebeansews on instagram. And thanks for following along!


(Almost) a situation

Sometime around mid-December after coming down with a cold, I started having headaches. They weren’t like the headaches I have gotten in the past and at first I put it down to sinus pressure, took some sudafed, and got on with my life, but the pain, or more specifically, the sensation of pressure continued. There was no particular pattern or trigger, although it seemed to be worst at the end of the day but I would go to bed with pressure and wake up with pressure and at a certain point, I realized that this had been going on for over a month and I don’t usually get headaches.

I am not generally an alarmist but I do work as an oncology NP full time and have seen things that have stayed with me so I always have in the back of my mind, what if? So I set up a video visit with my doctor (hello 2023) and he listened to what I said and then he ordered an MRI. On the one hand, he took me seriously and ordered an MRI. On the other, HOLY COW! he ordered an MRI. Luckily I have good healthcare, it was scheduled 10 days later and it ended up just showing my average, ordinary, 62-year old brain, which, through the magic of mychart, I was able to see myself, just a couple of hours later, as I sat on a bench in Central Park, all of this reflecting my immense privilege to get the scan, get the answer quickly, and not be bankrupted in the process.

Interestingly now, but somewhat terrifyingly for the 10 days I had to wait for the scan, my head went to the biggest what if of all-the what if this is brain cancer and I have a much shorter time left than I thought. And that turned out to be very clarifying. It turns out that you can think that you know what you would focus on if you only had a certain amount of time but when it isn’t actually the case, you can’t really put yourself in that mindset, but this felt possible enough — in my head maybe 50-50 — that I started thinking about what I would want to complete and how I would want to spend my time. I saved the list because I don’t want to forget what my priorities turned out to be. And those priorities are informing my 2023 resolutions/intentions/goals.

The ways I like to spend my time beyond spending it with my partner and kids, and grandkids, of course, are reading, sewing and spending time outside, preferably on the beach. I have struggled since 2020 with my focus because my work became and continues to be more stressful and bleeds into my home life. Work from home sometimes feels as though you are always working. Reading in particular, has been a slog. I still read more than the average person, but I often get 50-100 pages into a book and something happens, a character makes a bad choice, there is a death, divorce, infidelity, cancer etc. (life happens?) and I just can go no further. I probably have abandoned about 35-40 books over the last three years-contemporary fiction that I would have flown through before 2020.

During my 10 days of (almost) thinking I had limited time, I realized that if my time really was limited, I would stop reading/listening to any book I didn’t like and would avoid contemporary fiction altogether. Instead I would go back to books I have read and loved and maybe tackle some classics. I just read Bleak House for the first time and perhaps because it required me to focus, I got drawn in and read in over the month of January. I have decided to stop worrying about reading all the things and will try to focus on reading one classic at a time unless something else pulls me in. For example this book, which I ended up reading in a day.

Very fun. (Always make time for fun). I read Bleak House in the Penguin clothbound edition, inspired by the Conquer a Classic year-long read a long led by Annie B. Jones at Bookshelf Thomasville, a little bookstore in a small town in Georgia that is an absolute delight.

I really enjoyed the tactile experience of holding a clothbound book-I took notes and underlined along the way. I recently listened to Ezra Klein’s podcast about the “reading mind” and it was really interesting. Although I do love the convenience of reading books on my kindle, this podcast really spoke to me about how we take in information- I have started getting the paper newspaper on the weekend and am thinking more about reading paper books rather than electronically. In the case of the clothbound Bleak House, I really liked the heft of this book/reading experience. It helped me slow down, something I really need. I decided that rather than overbuying, I will read one classic at at time and order another clothbound book when I finish the one in hand. I have already decided that Vanity Fair is next and it is on its way to me. I will report back but this seems to be working for me so far. (reading intention for 2023-read fewer books, more classics, paper rather than kindle when possible)

As far as sewing, I have mostly been sewing for my grandkids this past couple of years. I have made a zillion flashback T’s,

thank you Rae, long sleeved, short sleeved, as pj tops, etc. and many versions of the mini Hudson pants

and a simple elastic waist knit shorts pattern that I hacked by combining a couple of other patterns. Also toddler undies (see Rae’s post for pattern and details, though I didn’t serge mine, just used my regular sewing machine as I have done for knits all along.)

I sewed an apron for my son and many napkins for all three of my kids and for us:

I have sewn a couple of tops for me and some Marlo sweaters

but have gotten overwhelmed by the many patterns and large amount of fabric I bought in years past on sale when I was sewing many garments. I basically stopped sewing for much of the last few years and those patterns and stacks of fabric feel overwhelming now and honestly like they are staring at me, a reprimand for overbuying, over-planning, too many ideas. When I briefly thought I had limited time, my initial thought was that I wouldn’t sew one more garment for me-that wouldn’t be my priority. Instead, finishing some long-lingering quilt projects for kids/grandkids would be more important (also organizing and labeling the massive stash of fabric, currently working on that) – but as of today, I am not dying and so in between finishing those quilts (hopefully this year) I want to get back in touch with what I loved about sewing in the first place: getting lost in the process, following the steps, making something I want to wear, not worrying about keeping up with the never-ending more more more-ness of the sewing instagram.

Right now I am slowly sewing some corduroy Lander pants. I will probably sew a couple of pairs. I bought the fabric in February of 2020 with exactly this pattern in mind. And it feels great to follow familiar steps of a pattern I enjoy sewing. So that will be high on my list of priorities this year.

Interestingly, I didn’t have feelings of wanting to travel, see some exotic place I have never seen, when I thought I had limited time. I did think about wanting to prioritize time outdoors. This is something I really started doing last year and it has been lifechanging. No, I am not on an island in the Mediterranean but I live close to the shore and how lucky I am.

Most warm-enough days, I make the time to do a 2-3 mile walk/jog and sometimes I bring a basketball and shoot hoops.

Very fun. (always make time for fun).

So while it was an unexpected thought exercise, it was actually helpful to have this brief scare and think about things I want to complete-projects I don’t want to leave unfinished. Spending time quilting is definitely a priority for 2023. I have an antique quilt top I bought years ago that I am hand quilting. I want to make progress on that beautiful project (see below) and sew two quilt tops -one small one to be handquilted and a couple of bed-sized tops to be longarmed by someone else in 2023. I think it is doable.

Overall I am optimistic about 2023. Trying to get into a new normal groove. Focusing on getting plenty of sunshine. How about you?


Where do we go from here?

Today I preached a sermon, as it has been my privilege to do these last three years.

You can link to the sermon here. https://youtu.be/89cEYHcOpb4


My topic was inspired by the Olympics and by a something Drew Jackson from Hope East Village said to his congregation last week.

I wore my Made by Rae Emerald top, blogged here. You can link to my prior sermons in this post, and this one. Last year I spoke about Making Peace With Uncertainty, a topic that continues to feel very relevant, but I really want to push us toward more action at this point. In my work with my patients, I know I can’t change opinions if I push them hard but I am sometimes able to move the needle a little bit, for example for my patients who are choosing to not get the vaccine, through empathy and trying to connect with where the other person is coming from. This was my goal here.

I would love to know what you think! Stay safe friends.

Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

A Love Letter to the MBR Emerald Pattern

Made by Rae is getting ready to release this wonderful pattern. I made two versions of the dress, one of which I subsequently cropped to make a top, when the pattern first was in Making magazine and then pattern-tested the top last year and made 5 more versions. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this pattern. I loved making it and I love wearing my many versions. In a world of patterns that seem to all be copies of each other, this feels very original, classic, a great addition to your wardrobe. Am I a MBR superfan? Absolutely. My first garment sewing experience was Rae’s Trillium Dress (previously called Washi Dress) and that experience was so positive that it gave me the confidence to start sewing my own clothes. The rest is history.

Note: I was a pattern tester for the top version of the Emerald and received a fabric gift certificate for pattern testing. I had previously purchased the pattern when I purchased Making magazine. All opinions are my own, my blog is not sponsored and I don’t get any $ if you click on links.

Here are my 7 versions:

Loominous Dress first blogged about here
and as cropped, I wore this all last summer
Linen-Rayon blend first blogged here
I dressed it up and dressed it down. Wore all last summer.
love this dress
Liberty facings for the win 🙂
Slubby Chambray top
I love how the texture of this fabric shows off the bias design
as worn. wardrobe workhorse

with leggings and a Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan while working from home, early pandemic
Blue version of same chambray fabric
worn with MBR Rose pants
Linen-Rayon blend with contrasting facings due to fabric shortage
as worn, Me Made May 2020
with Made by Rae Cleo skirt. My facings on this version were a bit wonky due to pandemic shortage-no interfacing. Had I had interfacing and followed Rae’s instructions, they would be neater as they are in the grey version but I was in make-do mode. I still love and wear this version.
with Made by Rae Luna pants-I love this April Rhodes fabric-quilting cotton for the win!
Double gauze version. I didn’t sew the double gauze versions on the bias. I actually sewed them on the fold that they are just fine.
With Made by Rae Rose pants.
White Double Gauze-worn all the time-with Made by Rae Rose pants

I hope you have enjoyed this little gratitude post for this lovely pattern. Sewing the many top versions is part of how I coped with pandemic anxiety when I had little time and energy for sewing and for that I will always be very grateful. This is just one of the many reasons I am so glad that Rae is still persevering and creating beautiful, wearable designs and well thought out, clear instructions, despite a pandemic, parenting three children and #life. You go girl!


2020 in the rear window (thank goodness)

It is December 31st and my instagram is flooded with end of year reflections and 3X3 photo grids, mostly posted by sewing friends who share their most-liked posts filled with beautiful handsewn garments. Normally that would be me but this year was like no other.

In February, after a birthday weekend spent in NYC taking a sewing workshop and staying overnight in the city with my husband, (and eating out at several favorite Brooklyn restaurants,) life changed, almost on a dime. I look back at my texts to my husband and it tells the story. Even as early as February 6th when I went to my previously scheduled doctor’s appts in NYC, I was being screened for recent travels. I was a little nervous about riding the subway and eating out in Brooklyn and bodegas were selling masks. And then the first case was in NYC and then it was in Connecticut. The hospital where I work was giving me and my colleagues daily messages, often contradictory, about how best to handle things. On March 11th, I got fitted for an N95 mask but the following week, we were told that there was a shortage and that they wouldn’t be issued to us, only ICU staff. We were told to wear surgical masks and then told that we shouldn’t be wearing them because they were in short supply. My boss asked me to sew cloth masks for staff to wear but the senior management of the hospital was telling us to not wear masks in clinic and hadn’t endorsed cloth masks for healthcare workers and I was having a hard time just managing the stress of going into work each day and didn’t have the physical or psychic energy to sew masks. To actually sew them would have meant acknowledging that the people who were in charge of keeping me and my coworkers and patients safe didn’t have the resources and information to do that and that was more than I could bear. And so for the month of March into the first week in April, I went into the hospital each day and worked in clinic without a mask. I was especially nervous walking up the 4 flights of stairs to my clinic. As I would pass other hospital employees, I would hold my breath. I pared my physical exams of my patients down to bare minimums and washed my hands constantly. I was so afraid that I might unknowingly have the virus and could infect one of my fragile cancer patients. In April, I had cold symptoms and had to quarantine for 14 days at home so overnight had to figure out how to work from home. Our clinic was short staffed as doctors got pulled to work in the ICU’s at Yale and I took over many new patients.

I realized right away that our patients, elderly cancer patients, many of whom lived at home with limited family and social support, were high risk for loneliness from social isolation so I reached out to colleagues and we created a new program where we call patients at-risk patients weekly. It helped to stay busy but the ongoing stress of worrying about my patients and family members has been a lot. Most nights this year, I have what I call responsibility dreams – I have forgotten something or someone. It has been a heavy load.

I wrote new years resolutions in February of last year because the holidays are always busy and December bleeds into January and in February after we took our weekend trip to New York, I finally had time to reflect on what I wanted me year to look like. My son lives in Chicago and I wanted to do more traveling. I had gotten him memberships to several museums and I bought myself memberships to several museums in New York and I had planned to take weekend trips to see him and to spend time in the city and thought as a sewing goal that I would plan a trip wardrobe. I had fun thinking about the pieces I would sew and how they could be mixed and matched to make different outfits. I had also started a draft of an article for a nursing journal that I wanted to finish. I wanted to read and sew some quilts. It was a relatively modest list of goals.

My 2020 Resolutions which I wrote on 2/20/20, thinking it was a lucky date and how things went.

Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned.

I did do some sewing. I had agreed to be a tester for a new pattern and it was great to have that project to focus on in the spring and I went on to sew several versions of the pattern, the Made By Rae Emerald top.

I did sew one of the pieces of my trip wardrobe, a black sleeveless knit top that I really like.

Here is my trip wardrobe plan. I still plan to take trips and I still plan to sew these garments, just not right now.

And I actually sewed several other garments and quilts, almost completing the goal I had set last year to sew each of my children a quilt. I have one more to sew but it has been challenging to find the time and space during this second half of the year, so that project is on my list for 2021.

I spent a lot of the year planning our grocery shopping and cooking. We had three grown children back in the house most of the summer and fall and so my normal relaxed approach to cooking became much more planned and took way more time. It wasn’t all bad. I found many new recipes that I use all the time now and it was a nice thing to have family meals at the table as gracious end to sometimes challenging days when we were all working or doing school from home. You can see many pictures of many things I cooked in this post.

In December, I made the most of the experience I had cooking and feeding many adults during the pandemic by creating a cooking guide as a Christmas gift for my kids. Big kudos to Alison Roman, whose recipes and you-tubes were a comfort and a source of light during a challenging year. Here is the cover:

And here is a page from the cookbook. I handwrote most of it and then photographed the pages to make an E-Cooking Guide to be a jumping off place for my adult kids who have to cook for themselves.

An example of one of my recipes below: Refrigerator Soup. I use Alison Roman’s parsley topping on almost everything now. Thank you Alison.

We ate many meals on the porch in the summer and were so grateful to have a porch. I baked many more desserts than every before. And in August, I gave a sermon for my church (socially distanced on livestream) and talked about things my patients teach me about living with uncertainty. And the numbers of covid cases started to decline and things felt hopeful.

And then it was Fall and things eased up and I saw my daughter and son in law and grandchild for the first time in 7 months and went back to swimming at my gym and it seemed as though maybe we were coming to an end of this, at least in the Northeast and I even took a week in October and went hiking alone in Maine. After all those months of carrying my patients’ worries and my worries about my patients, it was a relief to let them go, even for a short while.

And then we had enough PPE in the hospital. We went from no masks to having masks to being required to wear masks to being required to wear masks and face shields. It has been a journey. Me on Election Day below. I phone banked for the first time in my life and it felt right to not stand on the sidelines.

And almost as soon as the election was over, I didn’t feel as though I could relax for even a day because the covid cases started climbing and the politics got even more nasty which seemed really unimaginable. I found solace in watching many different preachers preach each week. I didn’t just listen to my own church service online but several others. Digital church is the one thing that has been helping me in these last hard months of a long hard year. I didn’t have the energy for reading. Although now with the year almost over, I re-read my two favorite books from 2020 and seem to be finding my way back. They are Transcendent Kingdom and Deacon King Kong. They were even better the second time.

My year ended on a hopeful note. I was lucky to get my first dose of the covid-19 vaccine before Christmas. The VA where I work was organized and had enough vaccine for any employee who wanted one and I feel so lucky and grateful to have been able to be in the first wave of those vaccinated. I pray that many more people will be vaccinated in the next several months and that it will help make our world safer for my patients and all of our families.

Every year I write a list for myself of the things I accomplished. It is just for me. I include big things and small. It helps me to look back and see progress, even when it feels like baby steps. For 2020, the things that stand out are finishing my grandson’s quilt, which is completely hand quilted with many tiny stitches and just holding it together and showing up every day for my patients and coworkers and family. I am hoping to sew more and stress less in 2021 and I wish for you the same!

I have a goodreads account where I track my reading but I will also be tracking my 2021 reads in a new instagram account dedicated to my reading life: @nursebeanreads. Feel free to follow me there.

Wishing you a healthy new year filled with grace and peace.

About Me

Learning to Listen: A Sermon about How I Became a Nurse

I have given three sermons in my life so far. The first was in October of 2007 when I gave the annual Laity Sermon for my church on the topic of becoming an oncology nurse. My wonderful husband tracked down the audio on an old computer. It was originally recorded on CD.  The audio of the sermon is at the bottom of this post, under the photo. The sermon itself is about 18 minutes long. The audio continues after with the hymn and the benediction. You can listen to my two other more recent sermons via links in this post.  I am really proud of the effort that went into all three of these sermons and feel that they are the best things I have written. It was actually wonderful to re-listen to the sermon from 2007 and find it really held up for me, although part of me wanted to reach out to younger me and give her a hug for all that was in store for her future. I hope they speak to you. If you haven’t listened to any of them yet, I would start with the most recent, Making Peace with Uncertainty from 8/30/2020, then listen to 2007 and then listen to 2019. A lot happened between 2007 and 2008. The sermons from 2019 and 2020 are in the blog post just before this one. You can scroll right down or link here. I have written so many posts since I started this blog back in 2015 to track my sewing projects and books I have read, but if you are here for the non-sewing writing, this post is one that about sewing but really about life-is one that is really meaningful to me-I a really proud of it- and if you are interested in my Unplugged Sundays project, I wrote about it here and here.

About Me, unplugged

Making Peace with Uncertainty

Hello friends,

I am trying to take a social media break but wanted to share that today, I gave a sermon in my lovely church (socially distanced-church is remote) and it was on the topic of dealing with uncertainty.

It is pretty ecumenical and not too preachy (thanks to my daughter for her edits and feedback).

If you want to listen, click on the link and go to minute 25.

I wore my favorite me-made outfit of the year, my Made by Rae Emerald top in white double gauze and Rose linen pants.

A funny thing was that just this morning right before I went in, I learned that I was also doing the prayer, which I hadn’t prepared. I tried googling pastoral prayers. No help! I ended up writing something inspired by something Tsh said about feeling surrounded by fog. I have followed her and loved her writing for years. If you don’t know her, you should.

Also, the Lent Devotional that I used and loved is called Every Broken Thing. It is the work of Erin Moon and her work with the bible binge podcast is bringing me joy right now. I miss seeing her posts on instagram but am finding that I really need to stay away, at least until after the election.

This is the third sermon I have given. The first one I gave was in 2007 about becoming a nurse. You can listen to it here.  I gave one last year on navigating hard times. It is a bit of a tear jerker but ultimately uplifting. Maybe not what you want to listen to right now but if you are interested in listening, you can find it in this post here.

Hope you are all safe and well!



Spring-Summer 2020: A few more books and a lot of cooking


Citrus bounty

I realized after I hit publish on my Summer 2020 post that I actually have read a couple more books I enjoyed. This light beach read:


And this book that had me on the edge of my seat in a good way and transported me onto a boat in the Caribbean.


And this highly anticipated book by the author of The Mothers which I also loved.


But the thing that I have actually spent the most time on this Quarantine Spring/Summer/hopefully not Fall of 2020???? has been cooking all the things.

Some evidence below.


Ay yi yi!!!

It started because I was trying so hard to ration our food stores, not knowing if there would be shortages and trying to limit my grocery shopping to every 10 days-2 weeks during our period of social distancing here in the US and it became a creative outlet and a way to mark the end of the workday when I worked from home and work life and home life were enmeshed and every day felt like ground hog day.

I tried to create family dinners that we would all enjoy, complete with flowers, when available from the garden,  and candles.



Also my workdays looked like this and I needed a creative outlet. A glass or two of wine while cooking also helped.


My primary muse was Alison Roman. I had bought her cookbooks early in the year with the intention of trying some new recipes and try I did. Here is a list of the recipes I cooked this spring that were new to me. Everything on the list is something I would make again. They are all keepers.


And more here:


In terms of my New Years Resolution to cook some new recipes, reader, I nailed it.

I am hoping, though, to be able to to read more, sew more, exercise more as life hopefully becomes a little less stressful, although in the Northeast, we are still practicing social distancing and I expect to be doing this for the foreseeable future. Our gym did reopen, though, and I am swimming my laps again which is a huge positive development. Especially in light of all the food and wine!


Reading, Writing and Sewing, July 2020

Life continues to be very odd in the summer of 2020 as I am sure most would agree. I am not reading at my normal pace but I loved Deacon King Kong by James McBride and can’t recommend it more highly. I actually borrowed it right before lockdown and when our library reopened for curbside service, I knew I had to read it quickly because in the interim, it became Oprah’s book club pick. She was right as always.

I am now enjoying a book I learned about through an episode of Modern Mrs. Darcy. I tracked it down at the Yale University library. They tracked it down through inter-library loan from the Columbia University library. Some day all these institutions will reopen and they will want it back, but right now, with no prospect of a real trip, I am loving traveling through the towns of Italy. This book, published in the 1950’s,  is listed as THE BEST travel memoir in 1000 Books to Read Before You Die.  I highly recommend The Surprise of Cremona if you can get your hands on it and 1000 Books to Read Before You Die is very fun though a bit daunting. I don’t think I have even read 100 of them, but it is a great list.


I did a little writing this spring of tiny letters that I called Love Notes, inspired by The Isolation Journals project.  I posted them on instagram. They are illustrated using original drawings by by my talented husband.   He draws beautiful cards for special occasions and I have quite a collection of these lovely cards. They are the original Love Notes. I wrote about what inspired me to write them on my instagram post which you can find @nursebean82. Here is a collage of some of my favorites.

Not much garment sewing happening here, but I hope to get back to it soon. I have one piece of my planned trip capsule wardrobe sewn, # 3 of my original 9-piece plan drawn up on 2/20/20 as part of my new year’s resolutions that included a trip! and a trip wardrobe!! I break my own heart sometimes when I look back at my notebooks.


These resolutions seemed so modest at the time and so impossible now but I continue to stay hopeful and will sew on and hopefully finish this project by year end and be ready to travel when it is safe to do so. I love this high-necked sleeveless Nikko top, worn newly sewn Brumby skirt. It is such a classic look.


Other than my trip wardrobe top, I sewed some quilts:


Lap quilt for a friend



Baby quilt for a friend



Baby quilt for my grandson. Hand-quilted.

And a zillion versions of the Emerald top, a new pattern to be released soon by Made by Rae. My white double gauze version is worn with some swishy Rose pants, also a MBR pattern, in a rayon floral. It is the perfect social distance visiting in the back yards of friends with a glass of wine outfit which is my current summer plan.



I also continue to cook, cook, cook. It is my new therapy but it will require another whole post since I have cooked so many things but here is a highlight, cornmeal raspberry cake, recipe via Alison Roman who is my new best friend. I recommend subscribing to her newsletter.


What are you reading, sewing, dreaming of right now?


April 2020: Things that are giving me life right now ❤️

Up until five days ago, I was still going to work five days a week in the outpatient cancer center where I work as a nurse practitioner. Life had changed for me too though not as drastically as those who were staying home. It was certainly more stressful just going to work with the daily necessary screening at the door, the social distancing, the in-person interaction with my beloved patients which is my favorite thing about my work now switched over to phone visits and the daily decontamination process that I would undertake at the end of each day, stripping, showering, daily laundering of clothes, so much wiping down of surfaces. 😳 It has been a lot.

But that being said, I am so grateful to be employed and to be doing work that is meaningful to me, even by phone. I have now switched to working from home last week along with everyone else since I can do my work by phone, at least for now.

Many of the things I usually enjoy aren’t possible right now but there are quieter pleasures I am finding in this crazy time and having a gentle, regular gratitude practice (as opposed to a rigid, regimented one) is helping.

So here are things I am enjoying in the hopes that they may also help you.

I have not included links because I am typing this on my phone and my blog is not sponsored but I promise these are all a google search away if you are interested.

1. Artists sharing their gifts. I love Mary Chapin Carpenter and have listened to her for years, since I was a young mother in Brooklyn and would play her music, (LPs, probably or cassettes?) when I stayed up late sewing. She is a gift. You can find her on Instagram. All the songs are saved. Just click on the pictures. Her dog Angus is a special bonus. I miss our dogs. We had two wonderful golden retrievers. All the love for Angus. ❤️

2. Cooking new recipes and more specifically Alison Roman recipes via The NY Times cooking app. I have probably cooked 20 or more new recipes since the new year, most them hers. It has been totally worth it to me to pay an extra $1.25 a week to upgrade my basic subscription to the Times to include the full access to nytimesfood. I have had to be so much more careful about how we buy and cook and having recipes, especially good ones, is really helping. I am also slowly cooking my way through both Alison Roman cookbooks which were Christmas and Birthday gifts. Bonus: she is delightful to watch in the nytimes cooking you-tube videos.

3. Sewing, specifically pattern testing and hand quilting. I had agreed to pattern test the Emerald Dress and Top pattern by Made by Rae before the virus was in our State and I am glad I did. I sewed and blogged the dress version twice last summer. This past several weeks I sewed three tester versions of the top and I love them. Having instructions to follow and a deadline got me into my sewing room and not thinking about the world for several long afternoons. Bonus: I have three new beautiful tops I will wear all spring.

Lightweight cotton-linen:

rayon-linen blend:

Nani Iro double gauze:

4. Books

I don’t have the bandwidth to read much but I loved this novel:

And I read and enjoyed the latest book in a cozy buddy mystery series that is set in Maine:

5. Just a little bit of writing:

Inspired by a wonderful project called The Isolation Journals that is the brainchild of a young writer I have followed for years, Suleika Jaoud, I am writing the occasional tiny piece. I am calling them Love Notes and I am posting them on my Instagram. It is really worth checking out the project and all of the art that is being inspired by it which you will find by searching the hashtag #theisolationjournals or going to Suleika’s Instagram. There is also an article about the project on vogue.com this week.

Finally, I am trying to hold onto my joy. Two weeks ago I dressed up for work. I wore my latest Zadie Jumpsuit, a pattern I love. I sewed it to wear to NYC and I know I will be doing just that, just not in the immediate future.

Sending big love out to you across the interwaves. Stay home, stay well, stay safe. ❤️


This blog is not sponsored. I recommend things that I love in the hopes that they will bring you joy too. 😊