In the Barnyard: Who are Bohemian Farmgirls?

Bohemian Farmgirl is something that has evolved over years of trying to figure out how to weave all of the meaningful parts of my life together. This is what it means to me, and if it touches part of your soul then my guess is that you are a Bohemian Farmgirl too.

1. Growing a Family--First and foremost, comes family. This may be your biological or chosen family, but whomever your family includes, it's roots dig deep and provide grounding for growth above the surface of the soil.

2. Planting a Farm--Modern homesteading is a way of life for a Bohemian Farmgirl. This may include anything from a windowsill garden to acres of land, buying local and supporting small farms to growing and raising all of your food yourself, and cultivating dreams of homesteading no matter if you live in the city or country.

3. Nurturing a Creative Life--This is the heart of a Bohemian Farmgirl and what brings us all together creating a community of ideas and inspiration. Living a creative life is the wellspring of joy that provides energy to make our dreams reality, no matter what the circumstances. And we all help each other along the way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Home Project: Inspired by The Gnome Project

Time has a way of escaping from me that is quite perplexing.  But on this cold, leafless morning I find myself alone at home with my journal and the computer.  So I will share some of my thoughts over the past few weeks of The Home Project (see previous post).

October 26, 2015
The morning is crisp.  The sun promises to bring joy if not warmth.  The light sets the brilliant colors of autumn trees on fire.  Fall has always been my favorite season.  It's bittersweet in a way that I can't quite explain.  It is a time of transition from the aliveness of summer into the starkness of winter, yet this in between season offers so much beauty.

One week into The Home Project and I already feel bored, sick of it, like it's a chore.  But is this feeling about the houses or about something else?  What other areas of my life bring up these emotions? The impulse is to quit and rationalize the decision.  A house a day has become a house every two days. The one I made today was brown and mustard yellow, so ugly that I threw it away. What other pieces of my days or myself do I find ugly and wish I could throw away? Dirty dishes beg for my attention, an excuse that also stirs up guilt. I know there is a lesson here that is being presented and instead of quitting, I'll try to remain curious about this process and keep going.

November 5, 2015
Since we moved, I have been living in the present instead of always striving, working towards something, or leaning into a better future that never arrives. It feels like a speeding train that has come to a sudden stop because the tracks have disappeared.  I am completely out of my comfort zone.  What do I do now? I've never lived in the present moment before.  How do I do this?

 The structure of a schedule seems to have helped because it tells me what to do with myself.  The act of having made room in my days for studio time has had a huge impact.  I have put down the houses temporarily in favor of finishing up several projects:  making a bunting for my daughter's bedroom, painting her wagon that I built for her birthday a month ago, sewing curtains for empty windows. These things are still part of my Home Project because they help make this rented farmhouse into a home, and they help make the present moment less uncomfortable to occupy.

November 17, 2015
As I type the words above, clarity has moved some of the fog out of my brain (and heart).  My lifelong fascination with homes has not so much been about creating a nest for my outward life to have a place to rest so much as it has been about creating a space within the interior of my self for my soul to rest.  A restless anxiety has been searching for a place to cease the internal storm and allow healing to take place.  And that place is the present moment.

Art is indeed powerful.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: The Gnome Project
Note: This post contains affiliate links.

"I've always felt that creating art is, in and of itself, transformative, but I have discovered that when you endeavor to make art every day, you add to the power of that transformation.  What this means is that no matter what happened in that day--whether you had a headache or received a bouquet of flowers--you sat down and practiced one thing in the midst of that space in your life.  One thing held true like a golden thread weaving your days together, giving you a bit of predictability through the chaos of the human experience."    Jessica Peill-Meininghaus, from The Gnome Project: One Woman's Wild and Woolly Adventure

 I immediately felt a connection to this woman and her words.  Being a creative arts therapist, I am familiar with the transformative power of art, and I have craved time to be able to sit down in my studio and create.  This little book about Jessica and her gnomes inspired me to make major changes in my daily life, changes that were much needed.  Feeling unfocused and like I was just floating through my days, I would wake up and do as much as I could as fast as I could before going to bed exhausted without really accomplishing anything I had set out to do that day.  I read Jessica's book in one sitting, and then got out some paper and a pen to see how I could arrange my day to be more satisfying and joyful.

My days now begin at dawn, when I can have quiet time to myself before everyone else wakes up.  I have set aside time with my daughter so that I can be present with her instead of obsessing about all the things I need to do (she can sense my distraction).  There is a time for chores, and a time for play, time for being outside, and a time for cooking nourishing meals.  And, most importantly, there is studio time at the end of each day, a time when I can engage in much needed creative art-making.  Inspired by The Gnome Project, I have started The Home Project.  Each day I create a plush little house by hand.  This routine has provided the grounding that I needed to be able to live the life I imagined for so many years.  Maddie even asks for studio time, and we create side by side at the art table.

When I thought about making gnomes every day, I knew that wasn't the project for me.  I'd have to learn a new skill, invest in new supplies, and cope with failure until I could complete a needle felted gnome that actually looked like more than a blob of wool.  So my criteria included making something I knew I could do and would be fun, that would offer enough variety that I would not get bored, something I could do with materials I already have on hand, and a project that would be quick enough to provide daily immediate gratification.  Little felt and fabric houses: perfect.  I have always been attracted to little houses, whether the mushroom villages of The Smurfs from my childhood, or dreaming of buying an old house and turning it into a home.  So far I have stuck with my new schedule for 7 days and I have 7 little homes in my basket.  And most importantly, I have made room in my life for me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sew Woodstock: Woodstock, NY

Summer ended with a flurry of activity; swimming, picnic, hiking, getting ready for preschool (yikes!) and a visit to Sew Woodstock in Woodstock, New York. Soaring barn-like ceilings, antique furniture stuffed with buttons, yarn, notions and patterns, a wall of shelves with new and vintage fabric folded into square cubbies, books, clothes, project bags, beads, thread, sewing machines--this fiber lover's paradise enchanted both my four year old daughter and my grown up self.

Sewing tables lined the window, taking advantage of the natural light and the view of the tiny garden. Women flitted and fluttered about, making stitches and examining their work as if it were specimens for a field journal.  Racks of altered clothing divided the space between cutting tables holding baskets of scissors, thread, and tools waiting patiently for their chance to be employed.  Behind the grand piano displaying sewing curiosities, were plump chairs and couches arranged for cozy conversation between kindred spirits.  A baby in a carrier slept soundly surrounded by cloth awaiting the magic of the sewing fairies. No one seemed to mind that Maddie collected spools of thread by the armful and reorganized them by color in their box. We wanted to touch everything, senses reeling from the colors and textures.  I let her explore freely so we could both take it all in.  

I felt as though I was in the presence of the fairy queen herself when I shyly interrupted the women deep in creative activity to ask if I could pay for a book.  The Queen glowed, her long hair falling over her silk boho summer dress as she smiled and spoke softly to me about the magic of this place.  Yes, I will indeed return, I promised.  And soon.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bohemian Farmgirl Days

I awaken to the sound of songbirds when the sun has started its climb.  Downstairs, coffee is already hot thanks to the automatic timer that I set last night.  I have just enough time for a few yoga stretches, some Morning Pages in my art journal, and meditative reflection before my daughter wakes up.  In our PJ's she and I tend to the garden before the day gets too hot, morning dew on the grass tickling our bare feet.  A hearty breakfast ensures that I have plenty of energy to complete 2 or 3 projects before lunch, and then some creative play with Maddie in the afternoon.  Two well behaved dogs play in the grass, stopping every now and then for belly rubs. While Maddie naps I do laundry and prepare supper from scratch.  My husband will do the dishes as I get my daughter ready for bed. Then at last I will have an hour or two in my studio alone......

Okay, you're not buying this?  What gave it away?  The part where I have enough time to do anything, the part where I have plenty of energy, or the part where my husband does the dishes?  Actually, my husband doing the dishes is the only part that is true.  The rest was fabricated in my overactive imagination.  The truth goes something like this:

Abby, my "white" dog
I open my eyes way past the time my alarm went off for the third time, a large dog two inches from my nose breathing heavily into my face in hopes that I will be inspired to stumble down the stairs to fill up his bowl.  Although my coffee maker does have a timer, I never remember to set it the night before so that I can take advantage of this feature.  I haven't done yoga or Morning Pages in years, and there are a stack of dusty art journals on my bookshelf, with only the first page or two with any art on them.  "Meditative reflection" occurs while I'm washing my hair in the shower, an activity that should be done in privacy but is usually achieved with at least one other person and at least one dog sharing the bathroom with me.  Breakfast is luke warm coffee (light with cream, one sugar) while I squeeze in some princess play time with my daughter before the caffeine wears off.  The garden?  See my previous post.  Energy is always scarce, and my project list is way too long.  My dog and the one that stands on top of me in bed in the morning (whom we are dog sitting), are marginally good listeners.  My white dog Abby likes to roll in dirt after she jumps into the kiddie pool, creating a tar-and-feather effect that requires much scrubbing and yelling.  (See above photo.) Maddie never naps, and if she does, she's awake until 2am. Even when she doesn't nap (I poke her in the ribs if I see her nodding off) her bed time is usually 10pm, which means I'm too exhausted to sew or work in my studio.  I myself won't fall asleep until 1am, but I simply don't have the energy to get up and do something productive.  So I lay there making mental to-do lists instead.
Sigh....does your day look like this too?  If you are able to achieve the day in my imagination, please share your secrets.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Planting a (tiny) Farm Season 1

Planting a (tiny) Farm, July 2015

Despite all the research and planning I've done on gardening, despite my best intentions of implementing the Grow Biointensive method, and despite my eagerness to get started on a "real" homestead, my garden is a mess.  It's only July 8th and already weeds are threatening to swallow things whole like a venus veggie trap.  (I actually did some weeding after I took this photo...honest.) So far I haven't lost any plants to bugs or critters, but I did lose a tomato plant for reasons unknown.  Even though I knew better, I planted greens anyway in between some taller plants that would theoretically provide shade.  Nope.  I'll replant in September.  In the Grow Biointensive method you plant seedlings close together so that the plants themselves become a living mulch of sorts as they grow taller and wider, trapping in moisture and keeping sun out to prevent weeds from popping up.  Well, I've decided that my weeds will be this living mulch and possibly loosen up the clay packed soil with their roots.  I won't let them grow more than a couple of inches tall or let them hog up nutrients, sun, or water.  And we will just have to see how this lazy gardener's experiment goes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Strawberry Picking at Greig Farm

 One of the wonderful things about living in the Hudson Valley is all the local farms, some of which offer seasonal "pick your own" days when fruits and vegetables are ripe.  This weekend we headed out to Greig Farm in Red Hook, New York to pick strawberries and asparagus. Warm sun, no humidity, and a spring breeze made perfect conditions in the late afternoon for some family fun.  Thanks to my ambitious daughter, we picked $30 worth of produce.  We ate strawberries until our bellies ached and our fingers were stained, and then froze the rest.  The asparagus will make a yummy side dish sauteed with some fresh chicken tonight.  Perhaps we will pick some spinach from our own garden to make a salad too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Breaking Ground: Planting a (tiny) Farm

So I had these grandiose ideas about a lush garden with a hundred different vegetables grown from seed in boxes I made myself from salvaged wood.  Meanwhile, I wasn't able to start planting until a few days ago (it's June....). It went something like this: 
Day 1: Hack at the clay-laden ground for hours with probably the wrong tool to loosen the roots of the grass growing in my landlord-approved 10'x10' garden plot while my 3 year old daughter clings to my legs in fear for her life from bugs that will undoubtedly "get her".
Day 2: Repeat events of Day 1 in 90 degree heat + humidity. Drag the hose out to the garden and soak it. Call ASPCA hotline and "donate" $65 to find out what to do when a black snake bites my dog. Try to convince my daughter that bugs are a necessary part of the beautiful environment we live in and that gnats will not do her in. 
Day 3: Forget the notion of "double digging"--there is no way to get past all the rocks and clay down to the depth of 24".  I scatter some store bought organic compost (my homemade stuff won't be ready until later in the season), settle for raised beds that look more like mole hills and get a few plants in the ground.Yell at my dog to back away from another snake. The dog, by the way, who likes to dig in all the wrong places was no help whatsoever in digging the garden.
Day 4:  Quit and take some muscle relaxers. 
Day 5: Put a few more plants and seeds in the ground before it starts to pour rain. Sit on the porch in the rocking chair and watch the thunderstorm.  Ahhhhh....

I managed to plant tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, swiss chard, basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, echinacea, calendula, tri-color beans, and sugar snap peas (to be grown on hopefully what will become a bean tipi).  I used bamboo poles lashed together to form the tipi and a bunch more as stakes for the tomatoes.  They are ridiculously tall for tomato stakes, but I'll save sawing them down to a reasonable size for another day.  The rocks I removed from the soil form a nice edge for the plot since I haven't decided on what type of fencing I will need yet. I used pine bark pieces on top of newspaper to form a T shaped path through the center and along the one edge. Not quite the vision I had for my first garden in this new home, but I am happy to have just gotten started. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Farewell to New York City

As the days drew nearer to our departure date, something strange started to happen.  I felt sentimental about the city.   Our daughter was conceived there and spent the first 3 1/2 years of her life as a city child.  All that is familiar to her is no longer "home". This transition back to the Hudson Valley will be a more significant adjustment for her than for me.  Although there are so many new things that we will do together as a family, she will be mourning the loss of city life as much as I mourned the loss of country life when we moved to New York City five years ago.

There was so much I didn't like about living in Manhattan, but yet I found a few special places that I will (and I say this while cringing) miss.  I could not have survived living in so much chaos and sensory stimulation if it weren't for the oasis of city parks. Certain museums and creative shops offered a similar haven. I am glad I had the opportunity to learn from Julia Cameron at The Open Center and take art workshops that helped me to feel not so alone.  I enjoyed the beauty the old buildings and downtown neighborhoods that brought to life the words of Anais Nin's diaries and I could see Henry Miller's ghost sitting on a bar stool in a smokey room. And thank goodness for all the farmer's markets! True, our time in Gotham was not the bohemian adventure I had envisioned when we made the decision to move from up north, but it had its moments.

I am grateful to all the people that became friends.  I am proud of my husband for following his heart and completing his master's degree.  And I am excited to begin this next chapter of our lives together.  Goodbye for now New York City...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Eager Anticipation: Moving Home from the BiG CiTy

Twelve more days until we leave Manhattan. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to come, counting down the days until the magical moments of receiving wonderful gifts.  A loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a little homestead in the Hudson Valley...So why am I so nervous?  I guess part of me fears that it won't be all I've dreamed it would be.  Part of me thinks maybe I don't deserve it all.  These thoughts are the classic beginnings of self-sabotage, something I am much more comfortable doing than receiving gifts. Recently I asked a friend at work, "What do you do when you get all you've ever asked for?"  Her answer was simple and unwavering.  "Ask for more."  !?!?!?!?!? You can do that?! That had never occurred to me.  Huh....

image via, photographer unknown
But somehow, that is exactly what needs to be done.  "Ok universe, you've given me tools and support.  What do I do next?" The reply: "Live the creative life you've imagined and then offer it to the world like a cool drink of water for thirsty souls."  So there it is, my life's mission.  Stick with me, dear readers.  I can't do this alone. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coming Home

I did it!  I found our homestead!  I took a page out of Jenna Woginrich's story (Made From Scratch) and decided that renting a farm was the best idea for us right now.  True, the 25 acres are not our own, but we also don't have to plow, mow, pay property taxes, or fix anything that might go wrong.  I am extremely excited and eternally grateful for this blessing.
My magpie instincts are already imagining what this nest will become.  Winter daydreams lend their way to garden plantings. And my Etsy shop will reopen this summer along with a Bohemian Farmgirl traveling roadshow at local venues.
I can't wait to post photos of the transformation and I will keep you up to date with our homesteading progress!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Stitch Dictionary Embroidery Class with Jessica Marquez at Purl Soho

Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

I just finished an awesome 2 week embroidery workshop at my favorite little fiber shop in the city, Purl Soho (  Our instructor was Jessica Marquez, author of Stitched Gifts ( Jessica taught us how to create a dozen beautiful common stitches that can be utilized in any hand embroidery project.  Her casual no-stress style translated into a fun learning environment where even experts like herself make mistakes and pull out tangled stitches.  I appreciated her encouragement of experimentation and courage to try new things.  Thanks Jessica!

Catch Jessica at more workshops at Purl Soho or on  She has an upcoming photography class on that I intend to sign up for asap!